This is what makes Notre Dame Cathedral so iconic

Notre Dame Cathedral, a treasure of French Gothic architecture, is one of the most famous symbols of Paris, attracting 12 million visitors and pilgrims yearly.

On Monday, a fire broke out at the cathedral, toppling its spire.

Here are some of the reasons why the medieval cathedral is so iconic:

  • The cathedral is more than 850 years old. It celebrated that milestone in 2013, according to its website.
  • It took 182 years to build — construction began in the 12th century and was completed in the 13th century, according to Fodor’s Travel.
  • It can hold more than 6,000 worshipers, according to Lonely Planet.
  • England’s King Henry VI was crowned King of France in the cathedral, and Napoleon I was coronated there by Pope Pius VII, according to Lonely Planet.
  • The cathedral’s central spire was added during a restoration in the 19th century, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The restoration was partly buoyed by the success of Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” in 1831.
  • The cathedral is known for its enormous stained glass windows, among other remarkable architectural details.
  • Notre Dame was badly damaged during the French Revolution. It was restored by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, according to Fodor’s Travel.
  • Tourists flock there. “It is indeed one of the most incredibly beautiful and important medieval cathedrals in the world,” Yaron Yarimi, a New York-based travel agent and Paris expert, said an email to CNN. “It is also among the five most requested sites to be visited when we organize travel to Paris for our clients.” Yarimi said he was saddened by the fire. “What a tragedy unfolding right in front of our own eyes!”