Notre-Dame de Paris is the foremost monument in Paris and the historic heart of the capital: its parvis is the point from which all milestones on the roads of France are measured. Built over the course of nearly a century, from 1163 to 1250, it was one of the first buildings in Europe to employ flying buttresses, which allowed for much higher and thinner walls around the choire and the nave. *
* Personally, the last thing I'd want near a choir is a thinner wall. Lock them in, then soundproof the bugger, please.
The flying buttresses also provide the support necessary for the inclusion of the church's famous and astonishing rose windows.
During the Revolution, the great cathedral was variously used as food storage and a church dedicated to the Cult of Reason (and later the Cult of the Supreme Being). Many of its greatest treasures were looted, and in 1793 an angry mob decapitated the statues of the biblical Kings of Judah that adorned Notre Dame, mistaking them for former Kings of France. **
** This is what happens when the uneducated lose their heads.
Only the ten great bells survived unscathed. The damage inflicted would not be repaired until 1845.