A Gothic cathedral situated on the Ile de la Cite.
The site was occupied by a pagan temple during the Roman Empire, by the Church of Saint Stephen during the 5th century, and finally by Saint Marie, or Notre-Dame, Cathedral.
The foundation stone was laid by the exiled Pope Alexander III, and the structure was consecrated in 1182.
Its only known architect was Jean de Chelles.
During the Revolution it was dedicated as a "Temple of Reason," 1793; mutilated and closed, 1794; given to the "constitutional" Catholics, 1795; and restored to the orthodox Catholics, 1802.
During the work of restoration under Viollet-le-Duc, 1846-1879, the central spire, 148 feet high, was added.
Of special note are the triple facade, the sculpturing, the rose windows, and the gargoyles.
The cathedral is 139 yards long and 52 yards wide, and consists of a choir and apse, a short transept, and a nave with double aisles.
It contains the Crown of Thorns and a portion of the True Cross.
In the square before it stands the magnificent equestrian statue of Charlemagne.
New Catholic Dictionary