PARIS – The renovation of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is progressing quickly enough to allow it to reopen to visitors and worshipers by the end of 2024, less than six years after a fire devastated its roof, French authorities said Monday.
The iconic spire of the cathedral, which collapsed in the fire, will gradually begin to overcome the monument this year in a sign of renewal, said Army General Jean-Louis Georgelin, who is in charge of the Colosseum project.
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“The return of the spiral into the Paris sky will be, in my opinion, a symbol that we are winning the battle for Notre Dame,” he told The Associated Press.
The restoration, which began last year, after more than two years of work, the monument was built stable and safe enough by the craftsmen.
The authors made a plan to rebuild the monument in the 12th century, as it was previously of Gothic architecture. It includes a recreation of the 93-meter high ceiling added in the 19th century by the architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.
Philippe Jost, director general of the government agency overseeing the restoration, noted that the event “will be faithful to the original architecture” both because “we adhere to those wanting the form of the cathedral” and because “the materials and methods also adhere to the construction” of the Middle Ages.
“We don’t make concrete caves that look like stone, we make stone caves that we recreate that were built in the Middle Ages,” Jost said, adding that the tile floor was also made from oak for the first time.
On the other hand, an exhibition called Notre-Dame de Paris: At the Heart of the Construction Site will open to visitors on Tuesday in an underground facility in front of the cathedral. The book highlights the ongoing activities at the site and the experience and skills of the workers. It also includes some remains of the fire and engines from the cathedral.
General Georgelin said the cathedral will be reopened in December 2024, according to a proposal made by French President Emmanuel Macron shortly after the fire, but it will be too late for next year’s summer Olympic games.
“My office is ready to open this cathedral in 2024 and we want it,” said General Georgelin. This “means that the archbishop of the chapter will once again be able to celebrate the Catholic liturgy in his cathedral” and the monument will also “be able to be visited by tourists”, he added.
Culture Minister Rima Abdul-Malak told Associated Press that this does not mean that all renovations will end then. “In 2025 there will be renovation works.”
About 1,000 people are deployed at Notre Dame, Georgelin to work every day. “The biggest challenge was meeting the plan that we did every day,” he explained. “Many and varied works to be completed: framework, painting, stones, shell, organ, stained glass windows, etc.”
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