Poised on the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris (c. 2010), a goat-shaped gargoyle looks out over the Paris sky from the North Tower.
Throughout history grotesques have been viewed in two ways by the Catholic Church whose cathedrals they adorn. First, they have been considered guardians of the church, warding away evil and protecting the inhabitants. Second, others in the Church, particularly medieval clergy, asserted that stone chimeras were a form of idolatry.
Located atop the towers, there are no elevators here, and you can't see the statues well from the ground. If you are able, you simply must climb 387 steps of the north tower to see the mythical monsters and hybrid beasts that are eerie witnesses to history.
The structures were added during the reconstruction of the church in the 1840s.
The term "gargoyle" is often used incorrectly.
Gargoyles are carved drain spouts designed to carry rainwater away from a building to protect the masonry from water damage. They have adorned the cathedral for more than 600 years and serve a functional purpose.
Chimera are ornamental-only sculptures. They are the statues often depicted as monsters or mythical beasts and are merely decorative.
Grotesques is the generic term for such stone carvings, regardless of whether they carry water.