It’s been almost four years since a horrific fire ripped through Paris’ most iconic landmark, the Notre Dame. Now officials are saying that the cathedral will open its doors to visitors and Catholic masses by the end of 2024.
On April 15, 2019, a fire broke out under the oak roof of Notre Dame, causing its magnificent spire to collapse. Firefighters were on the scene and were able to control the blaze from reaching other areas, such as the bell towers and rose windows, but its most recognizable structure could not be saved. The fire continued from evening until the next morning, and thankfully no one was injured.
At the time, Emmanuel Macron swore to the public that the cathedral would be rebuilt because it is what history deserves, calling it the profound destiny of France. He set a goal for the work to be completed by December 2024, and the army general in charge said the project is on track to meet this timeline – although it won’t be ready in time for the Olympics.
“The return of the spire in Paris’ sky will, in my opinion, be the symbol that we are winning the battle of Notre Dame,” said Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, who is in charge of the project. The cathedral towers over the city of Paris, so many people are eager to see the familiar spire again.
The devastating fire made headlines as the graphic images showed up on screens all around the world. Onlookers were horrified as they watched France’s symbol of resiliency going up in flames. People from all over donated to its restoration efforts, including an American charity called Friends of Notre Dame de Paris that raised $10.6 million in 2019 from over 10,500 donors in the U.S. and other countries.
When planning for the restoration after the fire, authorities decided to restore the structures to how they were before instead of with new designs. This includes adding a new spire, making the roof from the same oak materials, and using real stone vaults instead of look-alikes made from concrete.
Managing director of the government agency managing the reconstruction, Philippe Jost, said that the reconstruction “will be faithful to the original architecture” and that they are staying with the vanished shapes and using the materials and construction methods that were used during medieval times.
For the past two years, reconstructors have been working to make the monument stable enough before they could begin recreating the memorable spire. New plans are also underway for the grounds surrounding it, which include a new park, underground pathway, and canopy of trees.
Notre Dame is no stranger to renovations, as it took over 200 years to fully build. It is a prime example of gothic architecture that was made popular around the time of its creation. Over the years, the cathedral witnessed wars, political shifts, and decreased affection that put its future at risk.
In 1831, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was published, which rekindled people’s interest in the monument and set in motion new plans for restoration. The 19th-century architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc was involved in restoring it to its Gothic architectural roots and designed the 315 feet high spire, which later became an iconic part of the cathedral.
It has been stressed that the renovations will continue in 2025, so don’t expect the scaffolding to disappear anytime soon. While main areas are still blocked off with access, you can still enter certain parts, such as the crypt beneath it.
If you are taking a trip to Paris, tourists are encouraged to visit the exhibition called “Notre-Dame de Paris: at the heart of the construction site,” which details the cathedral’s history, ongoing operations, and a glimpse into the 1,000-plus experts and skilled workers that are working hard to restore it.
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