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The sound of the Middle Ages: New bells for Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral

Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

Priests arrive to attend a ceremony to bless the new eight bronze bells of Notre Dame in Paris, on Feb. 2. The new eight bronze bells were cast with medieval methods at a French foundry in Normandy, and are ready now to ring for the 850th anniversary of the cathedral on March 23, 2013.

Nine newly cast bells are to be installed at Notre Dame, the historic Paris cathedral whose towers were made famous by the fictional hunchbacked bell-ringer Quasimodo.

The giant bronze bells, commissioned as part of the cathedral's 850th birthday celebrations, will replace the current bells, whose chimes are notoriously discordant.

After the French Revolution began in 1789, nine of the 10 original bells were snatched, melted down and turned into cannons.

Of the replacements, four were recast in the 19th century, and the original sound was lost.

Nine newly cast bells are to be installed at Notre Dame in Paris. NBC's Annabel Roberts reports.

"Historically the idea of this project is to recreate the old bells of Notre Dame in terms of tune so there will be 10 bells ringing as there used to be in the Middle Ages," said Paul Bergamo, president of the Cornille-Havard foundry in Normandy.

They will be on display inside the cathedral for three weeks, then hung in the cathedral towers. They will be rung for the first time on March 23, the day before Palm Sunday.

More than 20 million visitors come to the cathedral ever year, making it one of Europe’s top tourist attractions.

Its tower and bells were made famous by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Charles Platiau / Reuters

The public take photographs of 'Gabriel', the new and biggest bell, as it is lifted in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, on Jan. 31.