The writing of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame was greatly inspired by the titular cathedral itself. By the nineteenth century, the Notre Dame cathedral had fallen into a state of disrepair and was not seen as being of much cultural value. In fact, parts of the building were sometimes "updated" to adhere to contemporary standards of design.
Hugo felt the Gothic architecture was more than beautiful—it was an expression of French culture. Preceding greater literacy and the invention of the printing press, Hugo believed the architecture had its own universal language that anyone could appreciate.
So for Hugo, the period in which The Hunchback of Notre Dame is set represents the end of an era, when the medieval ways were soon to crumble in the face of the Renaissance and then the Enlightenment.
Luckily for the cathedral, Hugo's novel was a smashing success and inspired more interest in preserving Notre Dame for its cultural and historical value. Notre Dame subsequently underwent renovations due to the novel's popularity.