Since the detrimental fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral three years ago, concentrated effort has gone into preserving the stability of the twelfth century monument. People from all over the world donated an accumulated 1 billion euros for the project. Reconstruction began in September of last year.
Reimagining a Parisian Classic
An article by travel magazine Town & Country written four days after the fires hit carries the title “Why Notre Dame Will Never Be the Same–– And That’s OK.” However, not every patient onlooker of the restoration efforts agrees.
French president Emmanuel Macron says this is an opportunity to make it “more beautiful than before.” The president begs the point that in 1859, they added the infamous spire. This edition was long after the cathedral’s initial completion.
Controversy struck when, in December 2021, the National Heritage and Agriculture Commission of France approved multiple unorthodox changes for the rebuilding. This includes modern light projections and effects (imagine: a multilingual projection of a 1 Corinthians Bible verse on the walls) as well as the inclusion of modern artists like Louise Bourgeois.
Rebuilding a Majesty
With the Safety Phase officially over, 2022 is a bright new beginning for the cathedral at large. This time last year, medieval restoration experts, French sawyers and foresters, and the French government paired together to carefully select 1,000 oak trees. Each has the purpose of building the maze of beams and spirals.
Sourced from more than 200 different French forests, drones found each tree. Each oak had to be tall enough with little to no deformities, with at least a 100 meter circumference trunk. Every tree is 150 to 200 years old, some even donning royal pasts. The Sun King, Louis XIV, planted eight of the very trees chosen in the seventeenth century. He did so with purpose to build boats to strengthen the navy. One of the trees was just a sapling during the French Revolution. They’ve left these trees to dry for at least 18 months before any kind of use.
In order to authentically rebuild a Gothic monument, you must build as they did. The project assembled a team of skilled craftsmen. Master stonecutters, quarrymen, mortar makers, and more are on board, making up for a team of at least 400. If there has ever been proof that trade workers are a necessary and irreplaceable part of society, this is it.
Where does this leave us?
Ultimately, the historic cathedral will to reopen for worship purposes in 2024. However, it will be much longer than two years before it is fully completed. Experts estimate that it could take up to twenty years to fully complete those parts that the fire ravaged the most, namely the spire and roof.
In other words: set those calendars for the Olympics and then for 2042 when the project is finished.