Paris and the rest of the world are mourning the destruction of the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral, which caught on fire on April 15, 2019.
The devastating photos from the fire show Paris’ most visited monument in a way that we never wanted to see, and are a reminder to never take the world’s treasures for granted.
But rebuild it will, as French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed.
“I’m telling you all tonight — we will rebuild this cathedral together,” Macron said on the scene the night of the fire. “This is probably part of the French destiny. And we will do it in the next years. Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders.”
Donors from across the globe are already contributing in mass amounts to rebuild the cathedral, with luxury fashion conglomerate LVMH donating 200 million euros, and L’Oreal donating 100 million euros. French billionaires and companies from across the globe are contributing large sums to help rebuild this historic landmark.
An international collection for the Notre-Dame of Paris is now welcoming donations from anyone wishing to help rebuild via the Fondation du Partimoine (French Heritage Foundation)’s website.
The tragedy has incited the urge for many travellers to visit Paris and its unparalleled presentation of history while we still can. There are many incredible sights to see and things to do in Paris that we are reminded not to take for granted.
The Victor Hugo novel that many associate with the cathedral — The Hunchback of Notre-Dame featuring the loveable Quasimodo — has skyrocketed to the top of the best-seller list. Many are sharing this depiction of the tragedy by artist Cristina Correa Feile as seen below.
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There is a widespread focus on Paris and its historic cathedral, but exactly what is left, and what will need to be rebuilt?
While the extent of the damage to the cathedral’s exterior is unclear, it seems that the most valuable artifacts have been spared. “We managed to protect the most precious treasures in a safe place,” a Paris City Hall spokesperson told CNN.
Here is what was saved in the Notre-Dame fire, as reported by CNN.
- The Crown of Thorns, which some believe was placed on the head of Christ and which the cathedral calls its “most precious and most venerated relic,” was rescued from the fire, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said. Hidalgo confirmed the Tunic of Saint Louis and other major works were also saved. Both relics were among items taken to Paris City Hall for safekeeping, said France’s culture minister Franck Riester.
- A number of artworks will be taken to the renowned Louvre art gallery in the coming days, said Riester. Among them is a series of large paintings, known as the “Mays de Notre Dame.” Early examinations of the paintings showed signs of smoke damage but no fire damage, according to Riester.
- Recovered artworks will be taken to storage facilities owned by the Louvre, where they will be dehumidified, protected, conserved and restored.
- The facade and twin bell towers, the tallest structures in Paris until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in the late 19th century, survived the blaze. The north tower was completed in 1240 and the south tower in 1250.
- The cathedral’s main bell, Emanuelle, lives in the south tower. It has marked significant moments in French history, such as the end of World War II, as well as holidays and special occasions. It is not known whether any damage was sustained to it.
- The Rose windows are a trio of immense round stained-glass windows over the cathedral’s three main portals that date back to the 13th century. All three appear to have been saved. Culture Minister Franck Riester said that the three windows do not appear to have suffered catastrophic damage.
- The original Great Organ, one of the world’s most famous musical instruments, dates back to medieval times. Over the years, organ makers renovated the instrument and added onto it, but it still contained pipes from the Middle Ages before Monday’s fire. The position of titular organist, or head organist, carries great prestige in France and around the world. The Archbishop of Paris confirmed the organ is safe, CNN affiliate BFM TV reported.
The fate of other artifacts including sculptures, statues, and paintings is unconfirmed.