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Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris)

Like the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is seen as a Parisian icon. Located right along the picturesque River Seine, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is considered a Gothic masterpiece and is often regarded as one of the best Gothic cathedrals of its kind in the world. Construction of the famous cathedral started in the late 10th century and final touches weren’t made until nearly 200 years later. And once you get an eyeful of the cathedral yourself, you’ll start to understand why it took so long.

The architectural details of the Notre-Dame are intricate and become more abundant the closer you get. The front entrance boasts carefully carved statues that integrate seamlessly into its stone facade. The portal of judgment entrance, in particular, is just one example of this awe-inspiring architectural style. The back end of the cathedral is just as spectacularly detailed, featuring an ornate flying buttress just begging to be photographed. Inside, travelers will find sky-high gilded ceilings and stained-glass windows throughout. If you want to do more than just meander around, visitors have the option of climbing the cathedral’s 387 steps for top-notch views of the city. Or you can venture below to the crypt to view ancient remains.

Travelers found the architecture of the Notre-Dame to be amazing both inside and out. Those who ventured to the top of the cathedral thoroughly enjoyed the views, but were annoyed at how little time they were afforded by cathedral officials. Because going to the top of the Notre-Dame is such a popular activity, and there’s so little space at the top, the cathedral restricts the number of people at the top as well as how long they can be there. Also, be prepared to wait. The attraction sees upward of 13 million visitors per year, so unless you come really early in the morning or late at night, there will likely be throngs of people at the front plaza and long lines to the top of the cathedral.

Notre Dame is open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. There is no entrance fee, even if you want to climb to the top of the cathedral. The towers are open daily April through September from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. October through March. You’ll find Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of the city; subsequently, the Cité stop on the metro’s line 4 is the nearest. To learn more, visit Notre Dame’s website.

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