After having served as a setting for royal marriages, imperial coronations and regal funerals, the Notre Dame Cathedral made a sharp turn during the French Revolution. It became a Temple of Reason first, and a wine warehouse later.
Few people are aware of this curious and hidden “Mr. Hyde” aspect in the biography of the cathedral.
Due to the dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution, many church lands were confiscated, numerous statues removed, lots of crosses and other signs of worship destroyed.
The anti-clerical climax was reached with the Festival of Reason on November 10, 1793. During the ceremony many churches across France were transformed into modern temples of Reason. At Notre Dame de Paris, in the course of the largest ceremony of all, the old Christian altar was dismantled and a new one – to Liberty – was installed instead. The inscription “To Philosophy” was carved over the cathedral’s doors. Religion was officially dead. The new Goddess of Reason was now in reign.
After the curious transformation of the Notre Dame into a Temple of Reason, the cathedral went through one even more curious metamorphosis. It became a wine warehouse and served as a depot for the storage of wine for many years. It wasn’t until 1804, when it was transformed back to a temple by Napoleon.