Seeing Notre Dame catch fire back in April 2019 was one of the most painful experiences for many who revered the more than 800-year-old structure. But in the most recent updates, many news sources say that the iconic structure’s official re-opening would be on December 8, 2024. This is during the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
The 2019 fire started during a restoration campaign and originated from the cathedral attic. It caused extensive damage to most of the roof, the iconic Viollet-le-Duc’s 19th-century spire, and some of the rib vaulting. After two years of securing the building, doing project studies, preparation, and awarding of calls for proposals, cleaning and restoration work for the interiors have progressed. According to the chief architect of historic monuments in charge of Notre Dame de Paris, Philippe Villeneuve, its transformation will dazzle tourists with a fresh look exactly like how it was when Viollet-le-duc completed his work.
What’s been happening?
February 2023 saw the start of the government agency overseeing Notre Dame’s reconstruction. The process started with the reinstallation of the replica of architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s 19th-century spire that collapsed in the fire that also engulfed the original oak tree materials used. Reports also say that the spire will be completed by the end of 2023 with the same stone, oak, and lead materials originally used. This use of lead material however opens up concerns from both health and environmental groups. This is due to the 2019 fire releasing potentially toxic lead particles into the surrounding neighborhoods. The spire’s wooden base was completed back on April 15, 2023. Its 15-meter-long, 13-meter-long, and six-meter-high dimensions dictate the 66-meter-high spire’s stability.
Refreshing Notre Dame’s Interiors
The 2019 fire that engulfed the cathedral left not just a gaping hole through the roof. Parts of the interior were charred as well, blackening the walls and destroying the old painting decorations. Currently, the same walls and painted decorations and vaults have been cleaned. The choir enclosure was rehabilitated, and even a sculpted masterpiece of the 14th century has been restored to its former glory. The stone meanwhile has regained its luminous color and paintings were restored to their original brilliance. Various artists were also pre-selected at the beginning of the year for the liturgical furniture and chair designs.
By 2024, the cathedral should be diving into the third phase of work. This includes fixing the transepts exteriors, the apse, and the south tower. At the same time, the forecourt will be reconstructed while the cathedral’s surroundings are developed.
Wherever in the world we look, heritage buildings are always the most prone to fire and the hardest to repair if burnt. Aside from having materials that have aged after several decades, these materials aren’t so easily replaceable. Some are sculptures molded by master craftsmen who have already passed and cannot be imitated. Some materials could carry a great deal of damage. With a bigger update that encompasses more of the structure, costs can skyrocket a lot more. There are many other factors to consider and they take up most of the time for updating a damaged heritage building.
Related read: A Little Update on the Notre Dame Restoration Project