16 Apr 2019

The Bells of Notre Dame

From Upbeat, 10:11 am on 16 April 2019

Cathedral bells were traditionally used to warn people of an imminent attack, to call people together and to announce events.

The bells of Notre-Dame Cathedral - made famous by Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, rang out to communicate the end of World War 2 and the liberation of Paris and, more recently, to commemorate those who lost their lives in the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

The bells of Notre Dame Cathedral on display in 2013

The bells of Notre Dame Cathedral on display in 2013 Photo: Thesupermat

In 2013 Notre-Dame Cathedral celebrated its 850th anniversary by ringing in Easter with nine new bells and the one original bell called Emmanuel. The 13-ton Emmanuel bell is the only one that was not melted down to make cannons and coins during the French revolution.

The bells of Notre-Dame are known as the 'soul of the city'. While they fell silent today, a chorus of bells rang out poignantly from other churches across the city at the request of the Archbishop of Paris.

People gather in the streets near Notre-Dame to keep vigil as the landmark burns. Some sang as a way of coping with the devastation they were witnessing.

Others shared The Bells of Notre-Dame, a song from the Disney film The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, to mark the site's significance and its bells as "the soul of the city".