Notre Dame de Paris
The Notre Dame Cathedral is the final French monument in this 5-part series (links below) and deserves special attention. Like the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral (called Notre Dame de Paris) is symbolic of France. It is the most visited monument in Paris, with over 12 million visitors per year. It sits on the larger of the two islands in the Seine, Ile de la Cité, the medieval birthplace of the city.
The History, the Fire, the Restoration
The Cathedral dates to the 12th century and displays impressive Gothic architecture. Over the centuries it underwent damage, restorations, and additions. In modern times, the world clamors to see its flying buttresses and stained-glass rose windows. The structure was popularized even more when in 1831 Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991.
On April 15, 2019, a fire broke out at the Notre Dame Cathedral. By the time it was contained, the iconic spire had collapsed, and the roof and upper walls had been damaged. The cause, which occurred during some renovations, was determined to be accidental, possibly from a cigarette or an electrical short circuit.
For some time following the tragedy, the structure remained fragile and dangerous. Burned scaffolding and beams had to be removed. In September 2021, all the temporary structures were completed, securing the cathedral so that permanent repairs could begin. Work on the cathedral was halted for 3 months in 2020 due to the pandemic but resumed in June 2020.
In 2020 following the destruction of the spire, architects discussed whether the spire should be adapted or restored to its original form. They unanimously agreed to restore the spire to its original condition. The spire will be reconstructed from oak, as the first one was, but modern fire prevention measures will be added to prevent another fire.
Meticulous cleaning of the cathedral has been ongoing almost since the tragedy occurred. The grand organ was dismantled and is being cleaned and restored off-site. The pipes are being removed and extensively cleaned from the residue of the fire, as well as the works of art.
The cathedral is currently closed to visitors but scheduled to reopen in 2024, despite several delays. In the meantime, visitors can admire the exterior, which is just as stunning (despite the scaffolding) as the inside was. If you travel to France prior to 2024, you’ll still enjoy the majestic sight of Notre Dame de Paris.
And now, still on the topic of France travel . . .
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More Monuments to Discover
Five Impressive Monuments Outside of Paris
Three Monuments in Paris: Place de la Concorde, Louvre, and Sacre Coeur
French Monuments: A Chateau, a Cathedral, and a Tower
Two French Monuments: L’Arc de Triomphe, and La Sainte Chapelle
Notre Dame de Paris is a wonderful cathedral and I’m very happy they decided to restore it to the way it was before the 2019 fire. With that said, my favorite cathedral in France is at Chartres. It rises up above the surrounding flat farmlands for miles around the city and the stained glass is amazing!
Here in the south of France, our cathedrals are not as impressive but the Roman ruins and medieval villages are a sight to behold!
I’m also glad they decided to restore it, although there may have been easier methods, more modern. In the end, the original design was kept. The cathedral in Chartres is amazing. I’ve also noticed how it rises like a mirage above the flat countryside. A very impressive sight! I have a post on that cathedral too!