Notre Dame Cathedral’s ‘Main’ Art and Artifacts Saved From Fire

Apr 16, 2019

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A devastating fire ripped through the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday evening, burning down the landmark’s roof and sending thick smoke across the city’s skyline. The flames took more than 12 hours to completely extinguish, and more than 400 firefighters were part of the effort that eventually contained the blaze.

Arson has been officially ruled out, and the fire’s cause is thought to be linked to a restoration project taking place in the roughly 850-year-old church. In fact, before the fire, the cathedral was already crumbling and in dire need of restoration.

Officials spent Tuesday taking stock, and fortunately, it seems most of the cathedral’s priceless artifacts (in addition to the majority of the stone structure and its two bell towers), were saved from the blaze. The Paris Fire Brigade said in a tweet Tuesday morning that the “main works of art” had been saved from the devastating fire. Here’s a look at what priceless pieces of art and architecture have been accounted for, and —  what has been damaged beyond repair.

What Survived the Fire

A view of the middle-age stained glass rosace on the northern side of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, on November 29, 2012, in Paris. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP) (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images.

The Rose Windows

One of the most famous features of the cathedral are the three round stained glass windows, dubbed the rose windows. The stained glass was created between 1225 and 1260, (although one of the windows, damaged in the French Revolution, contains glass from the 19th century).

“From what I could see, the stained glass had not been touched, the three beautiful roses that date back to the 12th and 13th century were still there,” André Finot, a spokesperson for Notre Dame, told BFM TV.

Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. The holy crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ during the Passion. (Photo by: Godong/UIG via Getty Images)
Photo by: Godong/UIG via Getty Images

The Crown of Thorns  

Believed by some to be the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’s head, the church’s “most precious and most venerated relic” was spared from the fire, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told CNN. Hidalgo also said the Tunic of Saint Louis and other “major” works were saved. After the fire was extinguished, authorities transported these artifacts to a holding area at Paris Town Hall for safekeeping. They were later transferred, along with the rest of the church’s precious artworks primarily depicting saints and biblical scenes, into storage at the Louvre Museum.

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 16, 2019: A view of the Notre Dame Cathedral after the 15 April 2019 fire. Arina Lebedeva/TASS (Photo by Arina LebedevaTASS via Getty Images)
Photo by Arina LebedevaTASS via Getty Images.

Two Bell Towers and Historic Bell

The cathedral’s north and south bell towers remain intact. They were built in 1240 and 1250, respectively, and are an iconic part of the Paris skyline. “I could not imagine Paris without Notre Dame’s Towers,” Mayor Hidalgo tweeted on Tuesday morning. CNN reported that the church’s main bell, called Emanuelle, also survived. “It has marked significant moments in French history, such as the end of World War II, as well as holidays and special occasions,” CNN said.

Master organ in Notre Dame de Paris cathedral (Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Cathedral’s Master Organ 

Another historic artifact that was spared: Notre Dame’s massive 18th-century organ, which has more than 8,000 pipes — some dating from the Middle Ages — escaped the inferno with minimal damage, officials said.

“The organ was not burned at all,” Finot, the cathedral’s spokesperson, told BFM TV, noting that the instrument could have sustained some damage from the impact of the firefighters’ water.

A view of Paris and the Pantheon monument (in the distance) as seen through the flying buttresses on the side of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral on November 30, 2012, in Paris. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images.)

Stone Facade and Flying Buttresses 

The building’s entire stone structure and the cathedral’s 13th-century flying buttresses also outlasted the fire. BFM TV reported that a meeting on Tuesday “with experts and architects of the buildings of France must be held to evaluate the stability of the building.”

What Was Lost

Flames and smoke rise from the interior of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019, after a fire engulfed the building. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo by PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images.

Cathedral Ceiling and Spire

At least two thirds of the vaulted ceiling and roof that topped Notre Dame was damaged, Paris Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet said Monday night. Constructed from nearly 13,000 oak trees in the 12th century, the ancient wood is thought to have fueled the intense blaze. The cathedral’s 300-foot Gothic spire, believed to be the source of the fire, was completely consumed by flames and collapsed.

The steeple and spire engulfed in flames collapses as the roof of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral burns on April 15, 2019 in Paris. - A colossal fire swept through the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, causing a spire to collapse and raising fears over the future of the nearly millenium old building and its precious artworks. The fire, which began in the early evening, sent flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the Paris sky as stunned Parisians and tourists watched on in sheer horror. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)

Although some photos depicting the damage to Notre Dame may make the cathedral appear completely irreparable, professional restoration experts are hopeful that the cathedral can be repaired and returned to its former glory. The restoration team that repaired England’s Windsor Castle after a devastating fire in 1992 had some words of encouragement for France and Notre Dame.

“We shall see Notre Dame magnificent again,” Francis Maude, an architect at the firm that led Windsor’s repairs, Donald Insall Associates, said, according to Reuters. “The French can be reassured that it can certainly be done,” he said. “We would be more than ready to help.”

More than $675 million has already been pledged for the restoration effort, according to USA Today.

Featured image by CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/AFP/Getty Images.

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