Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is known the world over as an iconic symbol of Paris. Its construction began in 1163 and continued for the next 200 years. Notre-Dame was built in the ruins of several other medieval churches, including a Gallo-Roman Temple dedicated to Jupiter, but Notre-Dame de Paris is by far the most well-known church to stand on the site. The Cathedral is an impressive example of French Gothic Architecture and is easily recognizable by its dramatic towers, tapered spire, colorful stained glass and detailed sanitary.
Damage and Destruction
Throughout the centuries, Notre-Dame has sustained significant damage from wars, uprisings, and exposure to the natural elements. One of the most destructive events occurred during the French Revolution when the landmark was nearly demolished. The Cathedral was saved from destruction by Napoleon, who ordered its repair be completed in time to host his crowning as Emperor of France in 1804.
In April 2019, during routing renovations, the gothic landmark was severely damaged by fire. The fire broke out in the Cathedral’s attic, causing damage to most of the roof, spire, and vaulting.
President Macron vowed Paris’s iconic landmark would be restored within five years and called for an international competition for the redesign of the spire and roof. His efforts were met unfavorably. Macron was criticized for not incorporating the entire structure into the design plans. After intense debates, the decision was made to rebuild the iconic structure in its original design.
In October 2019, the French Government announced plans for the beginning stages of reconstruction, starting with the stabilization of the structure to avoid collapse. The biggest risk was the remaining scaffolding tumbling into the damaged vaults. The task of removing the melted remains of the scaffolding began in February 2020 and was to continue through April 2020. Then the COVID-19 Pandemic hit.
In March 2020, restoration efforts to the Cathedral came to a halt for the health and safety of the workers and residents of Paris. On April 27, 2020, work on the centuries-old structure was resumed with social distancing practices put into place to ensure a safe work environment.
On April 10, 2020, neither fire damage nor a Pandemic stopped the Archbishop of Paris from keeping with Easter tradition and performing Good Friday service from inside the Cathedral. With the city in lockdown and the structure deemed unsafe, the televised service had only a few participants, and every safety precaution was utilized.
The Rose Windows
Ask anyone fortunate enough to have visited Paris’s Gothic masterpiece prior to the fire, and their most vivid memory is sure to be the Cathedral’s stained glass Rose Windows. The West Rose Window was the 1st stained glass window created. It is the smallest of the three Rose Windows that adorn the Cathedral. The other two windows, the North Rose Window and the South Rose Window are much larger in size. Though all three windows sustained damage, the fire left the stained glass treasures essentially intact.
Plans for Completion
Though the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris has had its share of setbacks, the French Government is committed to restoring the iconic structure for visitors from around the world to tour for years to come. There is still hope that the original deadline for completion in time for the 2024 Olympics will still be met.