Widely considered among the best examples of French Gothic architecture, Notre Dame de Paris has been the site of much religious and political turmoil since its construction began in 1160 during the reign on Louis VII. Notre Dame is one of the first buildings to have used flying buttresses, arched exterior supports ultimately allowing for larger, higher ceilings. During the French Revolution, much of the architectural and sculptural splendor of Notre Dame was destroyed or vandalized, and the structure itself began to fall into a state of neglected disrepair. After author Victor Hugo penned his famous novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in an effort to draw attention to the plight of the cathedral, interest in its restoration grew, culminating in a vast project that would eventually succeed in reconstructing and restoring the cathedral to its former glory. The painstaking restoration effort continues to this day. When visiting Notre Dame, tourists should be sure to look upward at the roof of the building, where they will see the statues of 13 men. Twelve of the men represent the 12 apostles of Christ and face outward, while the 13th faces inward, and represents the architect himself.