Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral Nearly Restored After Fire Damage

A construction crane looms over Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most beloved buildings in Paris. The 850-year-old cathedral is located in the heart of the city. It sits on an island in the Seine River. In 2019, Parisians watched in horror as a fire destroyed the cathedral’s spire and most of the roof. As the fire raged, people feared that the entire structure might collapse. Hundreds of firefighters managed to contain the fire and save the building. Five years later, efforts to restore the cathedral are nearly complete.  

Notre-Dame is one of the world’s most well-known examples of Gothic architecture [a style of building construction used in Europe from the 12th through the 16th centuries]. This architectural style is defined by vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, and support structures known as flying buttresses. The cathedral has been featured in many books and movies over the years. Famously, the cathedral is the setting for Victor Hugo’s classic novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

For years, much of the cathedral has been hidden behind scaffolding and construction equipment. However, the new spire and much of the roof are expected to be viewable and free of scaffolding in time for the Paris Olympics this summer. In December 2023, a golden rooster was placed atop the spire. This ornament is a replacement for the original that was damaged in the fire. The rooster is an important symbol of France to the French people.  

So far, the restoration has cost $760 million. About 500 craftspeople have been employed to restore parts of the cathedral. Workers have chiseled stone for the ceiling. Six stained-glass windows have been replaced. Notre-Dame’s grand organ also needed to be restored.  Lead dust settled on the instrument’s thousands of pipes after the fire. Organ builders have carefully removed the dust. 

Millions are expected to visit Notre-Dame when it reopens to the public in December 2024. A series of celebrations will mark the cathedral’s reopening, according to a letter from the archbishop of Paris.  

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