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Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Paris, meaning "Our Lady of Paris", is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité, an island on the Seine River in the center of Paris, considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Its pioneering use of the rib vault and flying buttress, its enormous and colorful rose windows, as well as the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration set it apart from the earlier Romanesque style. Some of the most important relics in Christendom, including the Crown of Thorns, a sliver of the true cross and a nail from the true cross, are preserved at Notre-Dame. The cathedral's construction began in 1163 under Bishop Maurice de Sully and was complete by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries. In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution; much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. In the 19th century, the cathedral was the site of the coronation of Napoleon I and the funerals of many presidents of the French Republic.

Popular interest in the cathedral blossomed soon after the 1831 publication of Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame which led to a major restoration project in the 1840s, supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The Allied liberation of Paris in 1944 was celebrated within Notre-Dame with the singing of the Magnificat. Beginning in 1963, the cathedral's façade was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime. While undergoing renovation and restoration, the roof of Notre-Dame caught fire on the evening of 15 April 2019. Burning for around 15 hours, the cathedral sustained serious damage, resulting in the contamination of the site. On 29 July 2019, the French National Assembly enacted a law requiring that the restoration must preserve the cathedral's 'historic, artistic and architectural interest'. The French government hopes that the reconstruction can be completed by Spring 2024, in time for the opening of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.