The world seemed to collectively gasp in 2019 when Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral was devastated by an intense fire. It was an unexpected and severe marring on a world monument the likes of which we have not seen for some time, but thankfully much of the location was unharmed and has been in repairs since. Now, after over three years without the icon, the government of France has announced that the Notre-Dame Cathedral will be reopening in 2024.
Stemming from renovations that were ongoing at the time as well as confusion among staff at the cathedral, the fire in 2019 tore through the roof of Notre-Dame, burning for fifteen hours with the fire department only arriving almost an hour into the blaze due to communication issues. The fire most notably cost the cathedral its spire, one of the keys of its striking gothic beauty, hundreds of tonnes of stone and lead crashing down with it.
Donations and support came pouring in at unprecedented rates in effort to recuperate the losses of the historical site, and after instating a law that the reconstruction efforts of Notre-Dame must coincide with maintaining its historical significance, restoration efforts began in full. While delays came in the form of the pandemic as well as the dangers of the lead which spread from the destruction, in the midst of its $865 million reconstruction the culture minister Rima Abdul-Malak stated that the project will be ready in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Army chief General Jean-Louis Georgelin chief architect of French national monuments Philippe Villeneuve have overseen this effort at large, as well as a myriad of contracted companies. Much of the enormous budget is allocated towards cleaning interior elements of Notre-Dame, including its 8,000 pipe Great Organ made by François Thierry. September will see the erection of scaffolding in advance of the projects next aim—rebuilding the collapsed spire.
Notre-Dame Cathedral reopening is certain to be a momentous occasion. After a long and difficult series of years, and while there is certainly debate on the exceptional price tag on this project, it is easy to understand the joy and hope people feel towards this restoration. With any luck, 2024’s Olympics will be rung in under the well-cherished face of a new spire.