Less than six years after a fire tore through the Notre Dame in Paris, the iconic Gothic cathedral is set to reopen after restoration at the end of 2024. It will, however, not be ready in time for the Summer Olympics which Paris is hosting in July 2024, as French President Emmanuel Macron had hoped.
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The cathedral's massive 93-metre-tall spire, which collapsed in the blaze, is being rebuilt over the course of this year. “The return of the spire in Paris’ sky will in my opinion be the symbol that we are winning the battle of Notre Dame," General Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army general in charge of the restoration project, told the Associated Press. The fire broke out on the evening of 15 April 2019, destroying most of the roof and damaging the upper walls. It also suffered water damage in the course of the fire being extinguished.
The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, is being rebuilt to look exactly as it did before the fire damaged it. The last major restoration was done in the 19th century. Apart from the rebuilding, teams of artisans are also cleaning and renovating other parts of the cathedral. Nearly 1,000 workers are involved in the reconstruction.
“My job is to be ready to open this cathedral in 2024. And we will do it," Gen. Georgelin told AP. "We are fighting every day for that and we are on a good path.” The cathedral will be opened to both worshippers and tourists next December though renovation work will continue till 2025.
After the fire, billionaire philanthropists, corporates and individuals made huge donations for the rebuilding. The French government received more than €825 million in pledges, including François-Henri Pinault's gift of €100 million and Bernard Arnault's €200 million. Tatler magazine reported in 2022 that the renovation project had cost an overall €700 million.
In the meantime, the French government has opened an exhibition, Notre-Dame de Paris: at the heart of the construction site, to allow visitors to see some of the artwork that was rescued from the cathedral as well as understand the progress of the restoration work and the skills of the workers. The exhibition, which is free and open to all, will run until the end of April.
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