Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral

On 15 April 2024, it will be five years since the devastating fire that tore through Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral. The ambitious restoration project is on track for a reopening on 8 December 2024 of the 860-year-old UNESCO-listed building. 

Almost 1 000 workers are involved in the efforts, both on site and in workshops across France. This includes carpenters, stonemasons, scaffolders, sculptors, gilders, glassmakers and organ builders. 

2019-2020 

The first phase of the reconstruction was focussed on stabilising the cathedral’s structure, project studies and awarding tenders. 

Initially a creative reimagining of the monument was considered. Restoration plans for Notre Dame Cathedral were presented to the National Commission for Heritage and Architecture (CNPA), which aimed to respect the previously existing structure of the cathedral, and to restore the monument to its last and known state.  

French authorities decided upon this course of action, with the supervision of the restoration entrusted to architect, Philippe Villeneuve.  

2021 

  • Restoration officially began. 
  • Removal of burnt scaffolding from around the spire, with new scaffolding built inside the cathedral to protect and support the vaults. 
  • Dismantling and removal of the Grand Organ’s pipes for repair and extensive cleaning. Being the largest organ in France, the restoration included 8 000 pipes and 115 stops. 
  • The Notre Dame square in front of the cathedral was reopened.  

 2022 

  • Cleaning of the cathedral’s interior conducted, using new technology of applying a latex paste to the stonework and peeling it off a few days later, along with the attached dirt, dust and soot. 
  • Stonemasons repaired and sealed the north transept vault. 
  • The roof of Notre Dame, commonly referred to as La Forêt for its forest-like wooden structure, underwent extensive restorations, with new roof coverings expected to be added mid-2024. For rebuilding the structure, 1 400 French oak trees were used. Craftsmen trained in medieval woodworking, originally working on the Guédelon project, were also called to the site to ensure the proper use of medieval building techniques. 
  • The Pont au Double was reopened. The footbridge reserved for pedestrians and cyclists is an easy way to move between the Notre Dame square and the Left Bank. 
Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral

Five years ago, the world watched as the Notre Dame Cathedral’s iconic spire collapsed during a devastating fire. A new spire, built with the original materials of French oak and a lead sheath, was erected in December 2023.

2023 

  • Restoration of the wrought iron railings and fence grilles.  
  • Stone arches, oculus and breaches in the choir and nave vaults were sealed. 
  • The Grand Organ was reinstalled. 
  • Although none of the cathedral’s stained-glass windows were destroyed by the fire, some were removed for cleaning and restoration. French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced a competition for contemporary artists to recreate six of the stained-glass windows on the southern side of Notre Dame, to “mark this 21st century”. 
  • Reconstruction and installation of the wooden beam foundation and the spire were completed. Rebuilt to be identical to the one designed in the 19th century by architect, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.  
  • The spire and cross were erected early in December 2023. The name of a French general, Jean-Louis Georgelin, was engraved in the wood of the oak spire. He oversaw the reconstruction of Notre Dame before his death in a mountain accident in 2023.  
  • The new cockerel of Notre Dame de Paris was hoisted to the top of the new spire on 16 December 2023. 

2024 

The dismantling of the interior scaffolding from the nave and choir has begun, in anticipation of a reopening to the public by year end. 

2027 

In 2022, Belgian architect and landscape designer, Bas Smets, was declared the winner of a competition to redesign the cathedral’s surroundings, scheduled for 2027. This includes the redevelopment of the forecourt and surroundings of the cathedral, including a reimagining of the underground parking spaces underneath the main plaza, and the archaeological crypt located behind the cathedral. 

Architectural preservation 

Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame under construction in February 2022.

 

The cathedral spire’s previous rooster had been found, damaged among the rubble, the day after the fire. Inside it were the relics (the mortal remains) of Saint Denis and Saint Geneviève, as well as a fragment of Christ’s crown of thorns, all of which remained intact and have now been placed inside the new rooster, according to the Diocese of Paris. 

A sealed tube was also placed inside the golden rooster, containing a document listing the 2 000 names of those who have been involved in the works. 

The old rooster, alongside the six stained glass windows set to be replaced, will be housed in a new museum dedicated to Notre Dame. This new museum was announced by President Macron as a museum of art and history, which describes the permanent construction site of Notre Dame de Paris. 

 

On the evening of 15 April 2019, a large fire partially destroyed the upper part of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. With the fifth anniversary of the fire looming, the reconstruction of the cathedral is progressing well, with an anticipated reopening by the end of 2024. 

 

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to:

https://edition.cnn.com/, https://parisjetaime.com/, www.archdaily.com, https://www.euronews.com/ and https://www.friendsofnotredamedeparis.org/ for the information in this editorial. 

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