Hunchback, bees and relics: As Notre Dame burns, 5 things to know about the cathedral

The famed Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was ablaze Monday as shocked onlookers watched in heartbreak from nearby bridges. 

Footage showed the flames and smoke flowing from the historic structure, and its spire was engulfed before collapsing.

Construction began on the Gothic cathedral in 1163, and it took almost 300 years to complete. Twelve million people stop by each year, and it is the most-visited monument in the country.

The church’s site is full of symbolic decorations, colorful glass, art and gargoyles. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Here are five things to know about the world-renowned structure:

‘Everything is burning’: Famed Notre Dame cathedral ablaze in Paris

Why was Notre Dame cathedral built?

Maurice de Sully, who became bishop of Paris in 1160, wanted to reconstruct the site where Notre Dame sits, which had been a Romanesque church and pagan temple.

Paris was becoming a political, economic and intellectual center in Europe around that time, and de Sully wanted to mark its progress, Notre Dame’s website states.

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