It was only after Victor Hugo wrote and published The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831 that the cathedral returned to the public's attention. (It had, after all, been looking a bit worse for wear, thanks to a renovation by Louis XIV, who replaced its stained glass with clear windows, and the French Revolution. ) It also returned to the attention of public officials, who promptly kicked things into high gear, reversing the previous centuries of neglect just a decade after Hugo's book was published.
Fret not: Notre Dame has since been declared "structurally sound. " (After all, it's survived much more than that before, from decades of neglect—at least until Victor Hugo came to its rescue—to Adolf Hitler's threat of demolition. ) Now that it's thankfully here to stay, study up on some of the lesser-known reasons as to why the cathedral has come to be regarded as a national—and international—treasure.
A piece of the crown that Jesus is thought to have worn when he was crucified, a nail, and a piece of the cross are some of the most prominent relics that can be found inside Notre Dame. (Or outside: In 1935, an archbishop placed several of Notre Dame's relic, including the fragment of the crown, at the very top of the building's spire, in hopes that it would offer it protection.
Denis holding his head surrounded by statues of angels on the left doorjamb of the Portal of the Virgin, on the western façade of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
Whether or not Saint Denis actually did manage to walk six kilometers after being beheaded, bringing his head along for the trek, traces of the martyr can be found throughout Notre Dame, from a statue on its façade to a section of its stained glass. A statue of St.
Of course, it's a center in other ways, too: The Eiffel Tower may have taken over its towers' title of the city's tallest structure in the 1930s, but Notre Dame still receives nearly double the number of visitors.