Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019.
Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019.

Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames Monday in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, a searing loss for the city and for France. 

Here are five facts on the Gothic masterpiece that celebrated its 850th jubilee in 2013:

* The first stone of the Notre-Dame de Paris ("Our Lady of Paris") cathedral was laid in 1163 in the reign of Louis VII, as the medieval city of Paris was growing in population and importance, both as a political and economic center of the kingdom of France.

Firefighters douse flames from the burning Notre Dame Cathedral as people look on in Paris, France, April 15, 2019.
Fire Causes Massive Damage to Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral
A fire has caused massive damage to the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris, but firefighters say they have saved the building's two iconic towers and stone structure.Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters outside the cathedral Monday night that "the main structure of Notre Dame has been saved and preserved." He said one firefighter was seriously injured trying to put out the huge blaze in the French capital.The flames, which at one point burned upwards of 10 meters into…

* Construction would continue for much of the next century, with major restoration and additions made in the 17th and 18th century. The stonework and stained glass of the edifice recreate images and lessons from the Bible.

* Dominating the structure are its two 13th century bell towers. The so-called "bourdon," the largest bell, goes by the name of "Emmanuel."

* The 387 steps up to the towers take visitors past the gallery of chimeras, mythical creatures typically composed of more than one animal. The most famous of these, the "Stryge" gargoyle sits atop the cathedral watching Paris with its head resting in its hands.

* Victor Hugo used the cathedral as a setting for his 1831 novel, "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame." Quasimodo, the main character, is feared by Parisians because of his deformity but finds sanctuary in the cathedral and is employed as a bell-ringer. Quasimodo has been portrayed by Hollywood actors including Charles Laughton and also in an animated Disney adaptation.