Cathedrale Notre-Dame du Paris has so many design features on its exterior that many satisfying hours could be spent studying those without ever going inside the sacred church.
Sitting near the Seine River, Notre Dame is "insanely" huge, intricate and Gothic.
It is considered one of the first and finest examples of French Gothic architecture.
That's 182 years! More details and other additions would go on for decades and decades after 1345.
Some sources say it took 300 years for Notre Dame to be finished.
But the queue was moving at a good pace, so we opted in- and I'm so glad we did.
What an experience and education this would be!
Oh, and there's no admission charge to get in, which has to be the best deal in Paris!
The detail in and all around the three large arched entries is unbelievable.
More on Notre Dame's unique qualities here.
One figure is holding his head. This would be St. Denis.
He was the first bishop of Paris, back in the 12th century. Denis' success at converting people to Catholicism did not please the Romans who ruled France at the time.
He was tried, convicted and executed by having his head cut off.
St. Denis is honored with several statues around Paris.
Maybe this one intentionally looks like he's trying not to fall of the roof!
On the sides of Notre Dame can be seen dozens of gargoyles.
The serve multiple purposes. One, to ward off evil spirits such as the devil. Another, is that rain water drains through their mouths. Now that's a creative gutter system!
I learned from this site that the gargoyles were not put on their high perches until the 1840s.
Inside Notre Dame is beautiful and busy.
Notre Dame is hardly just a museum. It is an open, active church with regular services like any other church.
So with people walking around the inside's perimeter to see the historical and artistic displays, priests conducted Mass- business as usual- you have to appreciate that!
Amazing stained glass- as you might expect at such a mecca of design and excellence.
The stained glass is gorgeous and elaborate, a nice complement to the exterior features.
They can also walk along the church's side areas to see an array of paintings and murals depicting France's rich Catholic history.
The history of Notre Dame's construction can be studied by reading this timeline of panels.
Visiting here, saying a few prayers, seeing a Mass take place- what a special day this was.