2021-09-19 02:00:23 Stabilized Notre-Dame Cathedral Is on Track for 2024 Reopening, Officials Say
Stabilized Notre-Dame Cathedral Is on Track for 2024 Reopening, Officials Say
According to French authorities, two and a half years after a fire ravaged the centuries-old Cathedral of Notre-Dame in the heart of Paris, the building has been secured enough to begin the rebuilding process, which is expected to be completed in 2024.
The French authorities had to dismantle scaffolding and clear the debris that lay heaped on the floor, among other tasks, to stabilize the 850-year-old cathedral, said Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, a former army chief of staff appointed by President Emmanuel Macron to oversee the restoration, on Saturday.
“We are officially declaring that the cathedral has been saved, that it is solid on its pillars, that its walls are solid,” General Georgelin, who leads the government’s Notre-Dame restoration task force, told French broadcaster BFM-TV.
The task force, Rebâtir Notre-Dame de Paris, or Rebuild Notre-Dame, said in a Facebook statement on Saturday that the cathedral was on track to reopen in 2024, meeting Mr. Macron’s ambitious five-year deadline to reopen the Gothic landmark the same year Paris was set to host the Summer Olympics.
The rebuilding work is expected to begin within the next few months, according to the statement.
Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, an organization assisting with the cathedral’s restoration, is seeking donations to restore dozens of the cathedral’s gargoyles, statues, and paintings.
The world watched as the flames consumed the cathedral attic before tearing through the roof and up the iconic spire, which toppled down into the vaults below, as if it were a slow-motion horror film on April 15, 2019. According to a New York Times investigation, the cathedral, an irreplaceable symbol of French heritage, was dangerously close to collapsing.
Donations for the restoration came from all over the world, including from some of France’s most affluent families. Individuals, businesses, and institutions donated or pledged 845 million euros (approximately $950 million) to rebuild the damaged cathedral, a jewel of Gothic architecture, in the days following the fire.
The restoration sparked a firestorm of debate over the cathedral’s new design. Mr. Macron abandoned his unpopular plan to build a modern spire atop the cathedral last year.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but investigators have focused on two theories: a short-circuit near the spire and worker negligence during renovations, which was fueled by the discovery of cigarette butts on the scaffolding.
The safety planners at Notre-Dame have been chastised for underestimating how quickly a fire could ignite and spread throughout the cathedral.
The repercussions of the fire were not limited to the cathedral. According to government reports, another Times investigation discovered that the billowing smoke emanating from the cathedral carried its own hidden danger: massive quantities of lead that were scattered throughout the streets and parks of Paris.
The cathedral, which used to draw 13 million visitors each year, is still closed to the public.