12 photos that show the glorious history of the 800-year-old Notre-Dame Cathedral, a building that withstood multiple wars but has now been ravaged by a devastating fire

  • The Notre-Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames on Monday.
  • The building had been standing since the 12th century.
  • Police are not sure what caused the blaze.
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, one of France’s most iconic structures, is up in flames after catching fire on Monday – bringing with it a storied history that dates back hundreds of years.

The cathedral was constructed in the 12th century, with its famous spire standing since 1852. As of 8 p.m. local time, the building’s famous spire had toppled to the ground, engulfing the entire frame in flames.

Notre-Dame spokesman Andre Finot said that the entire wooden interior of the landmark would likely be destroyed.

Here’s what you need to know about the cathedral’s history.


The Notre-Dame cathedral, shown here in 1911, has been a spot for religious worship for more than 2,000 years. Prior to the construction of the cathedral, several other Catholic churches were erected at the same location.


United States soldiers celebrated and danced with locals in front of the cathedral in 1944.


Soldiers also filled the cathedral’s pews during the GI memorial service for US President Roosevelt in 1945.


The cathedral has always been a center of social change: in 1969, it displayed a North Vietnamese flag on its pinnacle in the aftermath of peace talks surrounding a possible cease-fire in Vietnam.


A year later, heads of state, including then-president Richard Nixon, sat in the cathedral’s pews during the the funeral of former French President Charles De Gaulle.


Princess Diana made an appearance at the cathedral in 1988 to attend a service honoring the Royal British legion and the Commonwealth soldiers killed during World War I — while also taking time to greet fans crowding outside the structure.


Victor Hugo’s 1831 classic The Hunchback of Notre-Dame also played a big part in helping to restore interest in the cathedral in the 1800s. The Disney film of the same name also reinvigorated interest.


Popes have often frequented the cathedral — like when Pope John Paul II attended the celebration of a beatification mass in 1997.


It is visited by more than 13 million people a year.


And has served as a place of hope for scores of people. It was the site of a national service for victims in the aftermath of the Paris terror attack in 2015.


Before the cathedral caught fire, it was undergoing significant renovations.


Notre-Dame is in flames, but its legacy will always live on.