On Monday 15 April 2019 around 16:50, a fire tore through the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The fire was seen blazing out of the top of the cathedral, annihilating the roof and eventually bringing down the iconic spire crashing onto the cathedral. The smoke billowed up in to the nearly cloudless sky, pausing pedestrians in their track. Paris is no stranger to fire, I myself have seen 4 different building go up in flames while walking around the beautiful city. This fire however was attacking a piece of Paris many believed untouchable. You don’t have to be catholic to appreciate the cathedral, the architecture is awe-inspiring, the artwork inside priceless, and considering that it was built over 850 years ago, the history this building has seen and experienced is remarkable. The cathedral has a portion of the cross and crown of thorns said to be used on Jesus himself. I couldn’t tell you if they’re authentic or not, but either way I am happy to say they were saved from the fire. This building has welcomed Kings, Queens, and Emperors equally as it has welcomed the poor, weak and sick.
As a resident of the Marais, Notre-Dame is always one of my go-to places. Either having lunch and viewing it’s magnificent architectural features or wandering around the city late at night it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunrise over the city. In 2017 a beautiful video display was broadcast on to the cathedral honoring the anniversary of World War I. In the evening of this solemn Monday, many Parisians and tourists took to the streets, some praying, some crying and others singing, spreading hope into the atmosphere that the building would be saved. Over 400 firefighters were on hand to help battle the blaze and get it under control. Around 3:00 the following morning it was reported that the fire is controlled and the building should be saved. President Macron announced that the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris would be rebuilt. It was because of Victor Hugo that this beautiful building was saved once before in the 19th century. His work Notre-Dame de Paris or The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to millions around the world. It is still unknown how the fire began, and I hate speculation so I will only say that I sincerely hope the fire was not started intentionally or with malice.
The groundbreaking for the cathedral began in 1163, with much of the work completed in 1260, but it was finally completed in 1345. It has suffered damage before, during the French revolution much of the religious imagery was destroyed. The city of Paris intended to tear down the cathedral in the early 19th century but the work of Victor Hugo brought new attention to the cathedral and restoration began in 1844. The Spire which we witnessed collapse last night was added during the restoration. The cathedral was undergoing a 20 year restoration project, and was covered in scaffolding when the fire began. Already wealthy citizens have begun pledging money to help rebuild this historic site.