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Major fire substantially destroyed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral

France Architecture News - Apr 16, 2019 - 00:06   2395 views

Major fire substantially destroyed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral

A massive fire has engulfed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral yesterday, causing its spire and roof to be collapsed. The fire explored approximately 7pm local time and hundreds of people spilled out into the streets to pray for the 850-year-old structure. 

Although the reason of the fire has not yet officially been determined, it is reported by BBC News that the fire may have been exploded due to extensive renovation works currently underway at the cathedral.

During the fire, firefighters could save the 850-year-old Gothic building's main stone structure, including its two (North and South) towers, but the spire and roof collapsed. 

In addition, its stained-glass windows and the wooden interior has seriously been damaged by the fire. The fire was able to be taken under control almost in nine hours after it started.

Major fire substantially destroyed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral

Image © Francois Guillot / AFP / Getty

The Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most beloved Gothic landmarks of Paris, which attracts millions of tourists every year. Known as the finest examples of Gothic architecture because of its pioneering use of rib vaults and flying buttresses and its striking stained-glass rose windows, the construction at the Cathedral started in 1163 and completed in 1345, and took 182 years to build. 

The cathedral was commissioned by Maurice de Sully shortly after becoming Bishop of Paris in 1160, and built over two centuries, from 1163 to 1345, although much of it was completed before his death in 1196. 

Major fire substantially destroyed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral

Image © Thibault Camus / AP

Significant damage was caused to the cathedral during the radical phase of the French Revolution in 1790s, which was followed in the mid-1840s by an extensive program of renovation, overseen by the restoration specialist Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. In 1991, Notre-Dame Cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites.

During the 1250s, the transepts were remodeled in the latest style of Rayonnant Gothic architecture by architects Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil, and the clerestory windows were enlarged. 

Major fire substantially destroyed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral

Image © Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt / AFP / Getty

"Terrible Tragedy" said Macron

The French President Emmanuel Macron visited the scene, having canceled a planned speech to the nation. He said "the "worst had been avoided".

"We'll rebuild this cathedral all together and it's undoubtedly part of the French destiny and the project we'll have for the coming years," said Mr Macron.

"That's what the French expect [and] because it's what our history deserves," he added, visibly emotional, calling it a "terrible tragedy."

Macron said the cathedral was "for all French people", including those who had never been there, and praised the "extreme courage" of the 500 firefighters involved in the operation. Reportedly, there are no reports of deaths but one fireman has been seriously injured.

Major fire substantially destroyed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral

Image © Patrick Anidjar / AFP / Getty

Moreover, Mr. Macron said he will launch an international fundraising scheme for the reconstruction. According to AFP news agency, Billionaire François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of the Kering group that owns the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion brands, has already pledged €100m towards rebuilding Notre-Dame Cathedral.

The French charity Fondation du Patrimoine also announced over its Twitter account that it is launching an international appeal for funds for the cathedral.

BBC News reports that firefighters spent hours to prevent one of the iconic bell towers from collapsing and seearch teams are now assessing the extent of the damage.

Some sections of the building were currently under scaffolding as part of the renovations and 16 copper statues had been removed last week. The renovation work began after cracks being appeared in the main stone structure of the cathedral, sparking fears the structure could become unstable.

Major fire substantially destroyed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral

Image courtesy of BBC News

Valuable artworks and religious items are in safe

During the fire, emergency teams were able to rescue valuable artworks and religious items, "including what is said to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus before his crucifixion, which were stored inside the cathedral built in the 12th and 13th centuries."

"A tunic, which King Louis IX is said to have worn when he brought the crown of thorns to Paris, was also saved."

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo explained that "we had a chain of solidarity, especially in saving the works of art... [They] were able to be saved and put in a safe place."

"This is a tragedy for the whole world... Notre-Dame is the entire history of Paris."

Major fire substantially destroyed Paris' historic Notre-Dame Cathedral

Image © Benoit Tessier / Reuters

France is crying for its history

With the fire exploded, thousands of people gathered in the streets and around the cathedral, they observed the flames in silence. Some were seen openly crying, while others sang hymns or said prayers.

"Notre-Dame is burning, France is crying and the whole world, too. It is extremely emotional," Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit said, reported BBC News.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May described the fire as "terrible". Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Notre-Dame a "symbol of French and European culture".

US President Donald Trum said over his Twitter account: "So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!".

Top image: Francois Guillot / AFP / Getty

> via BBC News