In addition to religious figures, many Gothic cathedrals are heavily ornamented with strange, leering creatures. These gargoyles are not merely decorative. Originally, the sculptures were waterspouts to protect the foundation from rain. Since most people in Medieval days could not read, the carvings took on the important role of illustrating lessons from the from the scriptures.
In the late 1700s, architects disliked gargoyles and other grotesque statues. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and many other Gothic buildings were stripped of devils, dragons, griffins, and other beastly sculptures. The ornaments were restored to their perches during a careful restoration in the 1800s.