One of Paris’s most beloved landmarks—the cathedral made famous by Victor Hugo’s fictional character, the hunchback of Notre Dame—is celebrating a big birthday this year. Lording over the Seine for more than eight and a half centuries, the Notre Dame cathedral welcomes 20 million visitors annually. Last Thursday, a special convoy drove through the streets of Paris carrying nine new bells that will replace the old bells that were discordant and out of tune. (The original bells were demolished in the French Revolution.)
Weighing 23 tons in total and named for Catholic saints, the bells will be installed in the two cathedral towers in time for Easter. Eight of them were cast in a foundry in the town of Villedieu-les-Poeles in Normandy, while the ninth and largest bell, called “Mary,” was cast in the Netherlands. The idea was to recreate the sounds of the Middle Ages, what Parisians heard echo across the Île de la Cité for centuries. Visitors can hear the bells toll for the first time on March 23.
The anniversary celebrations will continue with exhibits, special concerts, and more until November 24, 2013. For more information, visit www.notredamedeparis2013.com.
Photo by Mairie de Paris/François Grunberg