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In this chapter, Hugo turns his attention to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, concentrating on the damage done to it through the years. Three distinct agents have negatively impacted the cathedral: time, various religious and political revolutions, and fashion. The latter has led to attacks on the very framework of the great monument. He explains that Notre-Dame does not belong to one particular style of architecture, for it is not purely Gothic, Romanesque, or Arabic; instead it is an artistic, transitional, and progressive structure that defies clear definition. Built of stone and glass, Notre-Dame is supported by a series of flying buttresses and decorated on the outside with innumerable gargoyles and dragons. It is also known for its towers. There is a long dark spiral staircase that is located between the thick walls of the tallest tower. The staircase, in turn, opens in to two large platforms.
Since the Cathedral of Notre-Dame will become the central setting for most of the novel, Hugo devotes this chapter to the great edifice, which was built in the 12 th and 13 th centuries. With rich words and images, he carefully describes the cathedral and the beauty of its medieval architecture. It is clear that he appreciates both history and architecture and decries the desecration of Notre-Dame and other wonderful buildings. Hugo believes that time and man are the enemies of this and other historical structures.