Explore Notre-Dame Cathedral... From Westminster Abbey

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 6 months ago

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Last Updated 16 January 2024

Explore Notre-Dame Cathedral... From Westminster Abbey
A mock-up of the cathedral being built
The show, which plays out on a touch screen tablet, takes you right back to the building of Notre-Dame in the 12th century. © Histovery

A chance to explore the history of Notre-Dame de Paris, without getting on Eurostar.

Built in the 12th century, the gothic cathedral of Notre-Dame has had quite the colourful past, spanning everything from the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte, to a devastating fire in 2019. It's that fire which means the cathedral is currently off-limits to visitors, but from February 2024, visitors to Westminster Abbey can see Notre-Dame's past brought to life, with a digital experience, Notre Dame de Paris, The Augmented Exhibition.

The cathedral covered in scaffolding
Notre-Dame is undergoing serious renovation right now. © Histovery

With the aid of a HistoPad touch-screen tablet, visitors can witness the likes of the lavish wedding of King Henri IV, and the 19th century construction of Notre-Dame's iconic spire of Viollet-le-Duc (now, sadly destroyed). There's audio of the cathedral's organ and tolling bells, and a projection of one of its splendid rose windows. For younger users, there's a virtual treasure hunt.

A mock up of the inside of the cathedral, with huge flags hanging from the walls
The exhibition has already been seen by some 300,000 visitors worldwide. © Histovery

It's not all about the past, though. The real cathedral has undergone extensive redesign and renovation plans, and is now being reconstructed — the experience also demonstrates how experts are returning the church to its former glory, while adding a touch of 21st century grandeur.

Work people studying the cathedral from scaffolding
It's not just the history of the cathedral that's covered, but the future, too. © Histovery

The exhibition has already been seen by some 300,000 visitors worldwide, and comes to Westminster Abbey as part of Fraternité, a spring season of events at the Abbey celebrating the links between the UK and France with music, talks and events.

It's included in the usual visitor ticket price for Westminster Abbey, although you'll still need to book a slot.

Notre Dame de Paris, The Augmented Exhibition, Westminster Abbey, 7 February-1 June 2024.