Notre-Dame de Paris (Meaning 'Our Lady of Paris' in French) also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttress, the enormous and colorful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration all set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture.

The cathedral was begun in 1160 and largely completed by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries. Building work began on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris way back in the 12th century,  it was not until some 300 years later construction finally came to an end.  It is now one of the most prominent cathedrals in France and one of the oldest ones too. The length of time it took to build is evident through the various styles of architecture that run through the building. Although it is predominantly French Gothic, there are areas that demonstrate the Renaissance and the Naturalism era of construction. These varying styles add to the outstanding yet quirky beauty of the building. The Notre Dame Cathedral Paris didn't originally have flying buttresses included in its design. But after the construction of the cathedral began, the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher and stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. The cathedral's architects, in an effort to fix the problem, built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern. It was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports).

In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. Soon after the publication of Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831, popular interest in the building revived. A major restoration project supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc began in 1845 and continued for twenty-five years. Beginning in 1963, the facade of the Cathedral was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime, returning it to its original color. Another campaign of cleaning and restoration was carried out from 1991-2000.

In 1909 Joan of Arc was famously beatified in the Notre Dame Cathedral by Pope Pius X. The brave young girl who told all she had experienced visions from God, went on to assist the French in conflicts with English soldiers. The French trusted her word and ultimately won many battles against England. As a big fan of the royals she also played a part in the crowning of Charles Vll. However not everyone was convinced by her religious visions and beliefs and she was later killed by Burundians’ who accused her of heresy and burned her at the stake.  It was not until 1456 that her name was cleared and she became known as an innocent martyr.

As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame contains the cathedra (the official chair) of the Archbishop of Paris, currently Michel Aupetit. 12 million people visit Notre-Dame yearly, which makes it the most visited monument in Paris.  Within the Cathedral of Notre Dame there are vast displays of artwork, furniture and many valuable items that mirror the Neo-Gothic design. Tourists are welcomed into the cathedral to view and enjoy these pieces for a small entrance fee. They are also able to attend Mass, which is held three times a day and a popular attraction for Christian visitors.