How Notre Dame, 'Vast Symphony In Stone,' Weaves Its Way Through Parisian History

Victor Hugo wrote Notre Dame de Paris, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in the 19th century to draw attention to the cathedral, which had fallen into neglect and disrepair. It worked.
Bystanders look on as flames and smoke billow from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Source: Fouad Maghrane

The center of Paris is Notre Dame.

This is true both literally and figuratively. The Gothic cathedral is there on Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine in between Paris' Left and Right banks, convenient and inescapable for the more than 12 million people who visit it every year. Just outside, a Point Zero marker measures the distance to everything else in France. And Notre Dame is there in more than 850 years of French history: in paintings, daguerreotypes, songs, novels, war photos, awed selfies.

On April 15, Notre Dame de Paris , and its interior was almost entirely destroyed. The wooden roof burned clean through, and the proud spire – actually added between 1845 and 1879 – toppled over like a child's toy set. Outside, thousands of

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