The world's most famous church, Notre-Dame, is still "standing" two years after the Paris fire. President Emmanuel Macron praised the laborious restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris on Thursday, two years after a fire destroyed the cathedral's centuries-old attic and sent its spire plummeting through the vaults below.
But while the building itself may be intact, that isn't true for all it contains. The fire caused an estimated $150 million in damage, and many feared this would be the end of the cathedral's famed stained glass windows. They were only saved when the firefighters went inside to protect them from heat exposure.
After the fire, researchers spent three years examining the wreckage. They concluded that most of the art was not damaged by the fire but instead had been stolen over time. Police have said they believe the thieves wanted to sell the artwork on the black market.
In addition to the paintings, the fire also destroyed much of the cathedral's roof, which has since had to be replaced. And although the tower remains standing, it too will need to be rebuilt once funds are raised.
When construction is done, experts say the new version of Notre-Dame will look very similar to the original building. But some changes will be apparent even from far away: The new cathedral will be white with blue accents instead of gray with gold details. It will also feature thin walls and a flat roof for better visibility.
More than a year after a horrific fire destroyed large portions of Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral, French President Emmanuel Marcon has confirmed that the church's famous, collapsed spire would be restored precisely as it was. This is a departure for Marcon, who earlier stated that he had envisioned a fresh vision for the reconstructed Notre-Dame. However, he did indicate that the returned spire would not be its original form - rather, it will be taller and with more bells.
Notre-Dame's spire was among the first structures to be used as a bell tower, being built around 1180. The cathedral's spire fell during the French Revolution in 1793. Since then, it has been considered a symbol of France and the Catholic Church together. After the fire, leaders from around the world sent letters expressing their condolences over the loss of the cathedral. In January 2018, French media reported that work had begun on bringing the burned section of the spire back to life.
After years of planning and construction, officials announced in April 2019 that the rebuilt cathedral would be completed by the end of the year. The total cost of restoration projects is expected to reach $150 million ($136 million). Of this amount, $10 million will go toward rebuilding the roof of the nave.
When it opens again in 2024, visitors will be able to walk under the spire for the first time since the fire. It is expected that this will increase tourism to the area around the cathedral.
After a three-month hiatus owing to the COVID-19 epidemic, building on Notre-Dame Cathedral began on June 8. The effort is centered on removing the charred scaffolding that had ringed the spire. The spire was being restored in 2019 when it was destroyed by fire on April 15.
Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of France's most famous landmarks and has been described as the "jewel of French architecture". Construction on the cathedral started in 1163 and it was not completed until 1250. It has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1979.
The blaze that broke out during renovations to the spire caused significant damage to the nave of the church. Although the flames were brought under control quickly, smoke damage caused by the fire affected some parts of the interior for several months after the incident.
When construction on the cathedral stopped due to the COVID-19 epidemic, workers removed the scaffolding surrounding the spire because they were no longer needed for its restoration. However, these measures also prevented any immediate repairs from being done to the damaged structure. As such, the spire was not protected against the cold French winters and large amounts of snow and ice accumulated on it over time, gradually causing more damage. On March 31, 2020, the French government announced that it would fund the reconstruction of the spire.