Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

The home of the world's most famous hunchback

Perhaps most familiar is the role the Gothic cathedral plays in the novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," written by French author Victor Hugo in 1831. The title refers to the book's protagonist, Quasimodo, the bellringer of the cathedral, who is in love with the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda. Notre Dame's high towers are the setting for the novel's climatic moment.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

Back in the heart of Parisians

Hugo's novel may have helped revive the cathedral's popularity. During the French Revolution in the late 18th century, anti-church sentiment surged. Notre Dame was plundered, its decorations destroyed and left to sit in disrepair. A campaign to revive the cathedral began in 1844, with many crediting the novel for lighting the spark.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

Multiple movie versions

In more recent years, Hugo's novel has been made into more than a dozen big screen films, starting in 1905 with the short silent film "Esmeralda." The 1996 Disney animated film captured the hearts of many young viewers with its musical numbers and "living" character versions of the gargoyles that spout water off Notre Dame's roof.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

Artistic inspiration

The west facade of Notre Dame is a shining example of Gothic architecture, with delicate arches, nestling statues and two gracefully symmetrical towers. It is one of Paris' defining icons. And as one of Europe's most popular tourist attractions, the facade has been captured every year in millions of visitors' snapshots.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

On the canvas

Painters from all eras and genres have also captured the Gothic cathedral in different ways. French artist Maximilien Luce painted his impression of it in his 1901-04 oil painting "View of Notre Dame from the Quai Saint-Michel." He seems to have been inspired by the cathedral, as he depicted it around 10 times.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

A glimpse down the streets of Paris

A grittier portrayal of Notre Dame can be found in the 1826 oil painting by the German artist Eduard Gaertner. "Paris, Rue-Nueve-Notre-Dame" shows the cathedral's west facade through the narrow, busy streets of downtown Paris. Gaertner prided himself on realistic depictions or urban architecture.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

Picasso's take

Spanish painter Pablo Picasso used his brush to capture Notre Dame on multiple occasions. This version, from 1954, shows a blend of wild fauvist color with an angular cubist style. There is no single viewpoint; instead Notre Dame is seen from multiple angles on its island in the Seine River. Picasso blends the roof of the cathedral into the clouds.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

A one-of-a-kind silhouette

Henri Rousseau's painting from around 1909 titled "View of the Ile Saint-Louis from the Quai Henry IV" includes the familiar outline of Notre Dame against the sky. He uses a flat, dark color for the cathedral, and while he doesn't give any of its ornamental detail, the profile of the spire and the two facade towers cannot be mistaken.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

A coronation in the cathedral

The cathedral's interior has also been captured in art. One famous work is "The Coronation of Napoleon" painted by Jacques-Louis David in 1806-07. As Napoleon's official painter, David shows his boss crowning himself emperor in 1804 inside Notre Dame. To mark his independence from the Catholic Church, Napoleon faces away from the high altar. The painting can be seen in France's Louvre museum.

Notre Dame: More than an architectural landmark

A musical school

Notre Dame has also been captured in music — or at least in a musical style that was developed in and around the cathedral from 1160-1250. The Notre Dame school refers to composers who created music with multiple independent but interweaving voices. The numes look very different from modern musical notation. Here we see a French songbook from the early 12th century.

Paris' Cathedral Notre Dame, or "Our Lady," is an iconic landmark of the French capital and a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. But the building has made a mark in literature, art and music too.