Stabilized Notre-Dame Cathedral Is on Observe for 2024 Reopening, Officers Say
Two and a half years after a fire devastated the centuries-old Notre-Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris, the building is adequately secured, according to the French authorities, to begin reconstruction, which should be completed in 2024.
Stabilizing the 850-year-old cathedral was a daunting task as the French authorities had to dismantle scaffolding and remove the rubble lying on the ground, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, a former Army Chief of Staff, President Emmanuel Macron was in charge of the restoration commissioned said on Saturday.
“We officially say that the cathedral is now saved, that it stands firmly on its pillars, that its walls are solid,” said General Georgelin, who heads the government’s task force for the restoration of Notre-Dame, the French broadcaster BFM- TV.
The task force called Rebâtir Notre-Dame de Paris or Rebuild Notre-Dame said in a statement on Facebook on Saturday that the cathedral was on its way to reopening in 2024 and that Macron’s ambitious five-year deadline for opening the Gothic landmark would be respected the same year that Paris was to host the Summer Olympics.
The renovation work should begin in the next few months, according to the statement.
Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, an organization helping with the restoration of the cathedral, are asking for donations to restore dozens of gargoyles, statues and paintings in the cathedral.
The world watched the events of April 15, 2019, like a slow-motion horror movie, as the flames consumed the cathedral’s attic before ripping through the roof and the iconic spire that tumbled into the vaults below. An irreplaceable symbol of French heritage, the cathedral was dangerously close to collapse, a New York Times investigation found.
Donations for the restoration came from all over the world, including some of the wealthiest families in France. In the days after the fire, individuals, companies and institutions had donated or pledged 845 million euros, around 950 million dollars, to rebuild the destroyed cathedral, a jewel of Gothic architecture.
The restoration sparked heated disputes over the redesign of the cathedral. Last year, Mr. Macron dropped his unpopular idea of building a modern tower on top of the cathedral.
Investigators haven’t yet said what caused the fire, but they focused on two theories: a short circuit near the tower and the negligence of workers doing renovations, a theory brought about by the discovery of cigarette butts on the Scaffolding is heated.
Notre-Dame security planners have been criticized for misjudging how quickly a flame could ignite and spread inside the cathedral.
The consequences of the fire were not limited to the cathedral itself. Another Times investigation found that the smoke rising from the cathedral harbors its own hidden danger: huge amounts of lead scattered in the streets and parks of Paris, according to government reports.
The cathedral, which used to crowd 13 million visitors each year, is still closed to the public.