Celebration of faith to begin at Notre Dame

Celebration of faith to begin at Notre Dame

PARIS - Reuters
Celebration of faith to begin at Notre Dame

The Notre Dame de Paris cathedral will welcome 20 million tourists. AFP photo

Quasimodo would be overjoyed. Notre Dame Cathedral has had its lighting improved, a new viewing platform erected to appreciate its Gothic facade, its organ renovated and is about to have new bells made for a year-long 850th anniversary celebration that kicks off this week.

The graceful and inspiring Catholic church that has dominated Paris since the 12th century, survived the Hundred Years War, the French Revolution and two World Wars is being readied for an invasion of camera-wielding birthday visitors.

Nestled on an island in the Seine river, Notre Dame is a religious, cultural and historical site in the City of Light that has no shortage of breathtaking showpieces. With its graceful flying buttresses, imposing facade and famous bells - immortalized in Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by the ungainly bell-ringer Quasimodo - the church has enthralled visitors since the first stone was laid in 1163.

From Dec. 12 through Nov. 24, 2013, Notre Dame expects to welcome up to 20 million pilgrims, tourists and others for its celebration, a step up from its average of 14 million per year.

A series of concerts and religious and cultural colloquiums are planned throughout the year.