I have been going to Paris since 1954, and it was the first monument this Jewish kid sought out.
Perhaps the best-known church in the world, Notre Dame de Paris — Our Lady of Paris — is going up in flames as I write this, heartbroken, sharing what must be a worldwide sense of loss. We are all diminished.
You don’t have to be French or Catholic or even Christian to understand the grief felt by hundreds of thousands, undoubtedly millions, around the world. This magnificent structure, more than 100 years in the making and continually beautified through the past eight centuries, is not only a great, historic piece of architecture, replete with superb stained-glass windows and a wealth of fine art, but it is a symbol of Paris itself — and thereby a universal symbol of Western culture.
It stands on the Isle de la Cite, the small island in the center of the Seine River on which the city of Paris was founded. With the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, it simply said to the world “this is Paris.”
As such, Notre Dame is one of the most visited of all tourist attractions, not only for the faithful but for any lover of art, culture or history.

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