The gilded Golden Dome and statue of Mary atop the Main Building proclaim the Notre Dame campus as a place where faith is treasured and diverse traditions shared and respected. The Dome is visible from the roads that lead to nearby Chicago and Indianapolis, from just about any point on campus, and from many of the neighborhoods of South Bend.
While the Main Building is the most famous landmark on campus, it is just one of many places of rich history and meaning that visitors make a point to see while they're here.
Installing a camera inside Notre Dame’s most recognizable landmark was a logistical feat all its own. The crew climbed through narrow passageways to reach the installation spot, and then needed to solve the technical challenge of an unusually far reach to the network connection. The project is a collaboration between the Office of Information Technologies' AV Technologies, Facilities Design & Operations, and Strategic Communications.
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The Main Building, with its famous Golden Dome, is a centerpiece of Notre Dame’s past and present. Today, it serves primarily as a headquarters for administration, although it still contains classrooms, harkening back to a time when it was a crossroads where students learned, ate meals, and resided. This structure is actually the third building to stand on the site. It was built in 1879, the same year in which the previous building was destroyed by fire.
The Golden Dome was added to this building in 1882 and was most recently regilded in 2005. The regilding process uses only about a fist-full of gold leaf to cover the entire structure. Atop the Dome, you will find a 19-foot-tall, 4,000-pound statue of Mary, the Mother of God, “Notre Dame” (“Our Lady”). With this beautiful adornment, the Main Building is 187 feet tall, making it the second tallest structure on campus after the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The Basilica is a magnificent, Gothic-inspired, cross-shaped place of worship and welcome, nurturing Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. Many members of the campus community gather here amid its artistic splendor for daily and weekly Masses that are celebrated both in the main body of the church and in its basement Crypt chapel. Confessions, or the Sacrament of Reconciliation, are offered frequently, as are other sacraments—such as Matrimony, bringing back numerous alumni who wish to be married in this grand setting.
The stained-glass windows were first installed in 1873, giving Notre Dame the largest collection of 19th-century French stained glass in the world. Beautiful artwork fills this space. Also helping to lift the heart to God are the voices of student choirs that sing at various Masses. Separate tours of the Basilica offer views of the art and numerous cherished artifacts from Church history.
The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is one-seventh the size of the famed French shrine where the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette on 18 occasions in 1858. Visiting the site on one of his many trips to his native country, Notre Dame founder Father Edward Sorin vowed to reproduce it on the campus of his new university. A gift from Rev. Thomas Carroll, a former theology student, made it possible in 1896. Boulders from surrounding farms, most weighing two tons or more, were used in its construction.
A small piece of stone from the original grotto in France is located on the right-hand side of the shrine directly below the statue of Mary. To Notre Dame students and alumni, the Grotto is a special place to spend a few quiet moments, and especially during football weekends and finals, you might have difficulty finding a candle to light. Hundreds of students have proposed marriage here; outdoor Masses are celebrated regularly; and the Rosary is prayed every day at 6:45 p.m., every day of the year, rain or shine.
The Log Chapel
This intimate lakeside worship space is used regularly for Masses, but it serves also as a reminder of Notre Dame’s earliest days. The current Log Chapel is a replica of the one built by Rev. Stephen Badin in 1831 as a missionary headquarters for northern Indiana. The original was destroyed by fire.
But the original chapel was standing when Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and the band of brothers who joined him as missionaries from France to Indiana arrived at the site where Father Sorin established the University of Notre Dame. A Founders’ Memorial is near the front of the Log Chapel and is dedicated to Father Sorin and the seven Holy Cross brothers who stood with him in 1842.
The Hesburgh Library
With Jesus depicted in a famous mural as “the Word of Life,” facing Notre Dame Stadium as the great teacher, the 14 stories of the Hesburgh Library make an impact on football fans and on scholars from around the world. The image, also known as “Touchdown Jesus,” can be seen over the north end zone. It is 132 feet high and 65 feet wide, containing 81 types of stone from 16 countries.
This building, which was the largest college library in the world when it opened in 1963, now joins with several other libraries on campus—collectively called the Hesburgh Libraries—to contain 3 million volumes, 2 million microfiche units, more than 17,000 serial subscriptions, and 12,000 audio recordings. The building is also traditionally an important gathering place for students on campus, whether they want to collaborate in groups, embark on a pursuit of study materials, or make use of the latest technology in their entrepreneurial research.
Notre Dame Stadium/Campus Crossroads
This home of the Fighting Irish football team was built in 1930. Legendary coach Knute Rockne designed the stadium but coached only one season there before his tragic death in a plane crash. The stadium was expanded for the 1997 season and now has a capacity of 80,795 fans. Students are guaranteed tickets to all home games, and they enthusiastically express their solidarity with their classmates on the field, as well as the parents, alumni, and other supporters who come out for a game day celebration.
In 2017, construction was completed on a massive re-imagining of the stadium space. Three buildings were constructed adjacent and attached to the stadium - O'Neill Hall, Corbett Family Hall, and the Duncan Student Center. Collectively, the three buildings are known as the Campus Crossroads project. The facilities housed in these buildings provide a remarkable synergy between athletics, academics and student life.