The Notre-Dame's 856-year-old legacy serves as a creative muse

Paris: The Notre-Dame Cathedral is a majestic structure of Gothic architecture. On Monday, it caught fire amidst of renovation work. The world watched on with horror as one of its most celebrated and historic buildings went up in flames.

Fire-fighters worked tirelessly for over 15 hours to douse the flames and save as many of the priceless relics and artworks as possible. The most sacred relics, including the 'Crown of Thorns', believed to be placed on the head of Jesus during crucifixion; and the linen 'Tunic of St Louis' was rescued from the inferno.

The 13th-century cathedral has inspired several writers, artists and filmmakers over the centuries. Several masterpieces have been inspired by the Notre-Dame.


Victor Hugo’s 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' is probably the most famous piece of literature based on the cathedral. The book is a lovely ode to the cathedral as well as to the Gothic buildings around Paris, which were falling out of fashion. Apart from Hugo’s masterpiece, the Notre-Dame has featured in Honoré de Balzac’s 'The Wrong Side of Paris' to the 'Babar' and 'Madeline' children’s series as well.


French artist Henri Matisse, painters William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Jacques-Louis David were few who immortalised the Notre-Dame in their artworks. They took inspiration from the grandiose and aura of the interiors and depicted it in their paintings. Matisse mostly used blues, greens and pinks in his paintings of the cathedral. ‘The Coronation of Napoleon’ by Jacques-Louis David is a neo-classical painting from the 1800s, which celebrates the magnificence of the Notre-Dame.


The most famous of the movies on this historic building is the several adaptations of Hugo’s book, ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’. The 1939 version starring Charles Laughton, the 1956 remake with Anthony Quinn and the 1996 Disney musical with voice-overs from Tom Hulce and Demi Moore were all very popular. The Notre-Dame can also be spotted in several other cult movies like ‘Before Sunset’ and Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Charade’.


Music has been a part of the original legacy of the cathedral. Several European composers worked in the Notre-Dame from 1160 to 1250. Their names are largely forgotten now but they were said to have belonged to the Notre-Dame School.

Another important contribution to the field of music of the cathedral was the flourishing of French organ music. This kind of organ music is played on five keyboards and pedals. The French organ music survived both world wars and was considerably improved in the 1960s and 1990s.

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