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