Notre Dame Cathedral: One of the most visited landmarks in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Credit: David Davies/PA

Firefighters are tackling a major blaze at the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

One of the city’s oldest and most recognisable buildings, work began on Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in 1163.

The original structure was completed nearly 200 years later, in 1345, and its name literally translates to “Our Lady of Paris”.

Some 13 million people now visit the Catholic landmark every year – more than 30,000 every day on average – according to its official website, and it is believed to be one of the most visited structures in the French capital.

The first stone of the original structure was laid in front of Pope Alexander III after the Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, proposed the cathedral after his election in 1160.

It grew iconic in popular culture through several artistic works, including the Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was published in 1831 and adapted by Disney in 1996.

The spire, which collapsed during the devastating fire, has undergone several changes in the building’s history.

The 13th century spire was dismantled during the French Revolution and later rebuilt in the 1860s.

The cathedral’s stained glass rose windows are also some of its most architecturally significant features.

The first, and smallest, on the west facade, was finished in around 1225 and celebrated for the way the glass seemingly upheld the stonework around it. That window was among several parts of the cathedral included in restoration works between 1844 and 1867.

A brass plate set in stone outside the building also marks “Point Zero” in Paris, the centre of the city. It is the point in France from where all distances to Paris are measured.

A message engraved around the stone reads: “Point zero des routes de France”.

The cathedral also houses a beehive over the sacristy, which was added in spring 2013.