Reconstruction of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is on track to reopen by the end of 2024, French officials said on Monday March 6th. This will be less than six years after a fire devastated its roof. The cathedral’s iconic spire, which collapsed in the fire, will gradually begin to reappear atop the monument this year in a powerful sign of its rebirth, General Jean-Louis Georgelin the army general in charge of the colossal project told the Associated Press.
The reconstruction began last year, after more than two years of work to make the monument stable and safe enough for craftsmen to begin rebuilding it. Authorities have made the decision to rebuild the 12th century monument, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, as it was before. That includes recreating the 93-meter-high (315-foot) spire added in the 19th century by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.
My job is to be ready to open this cathedral in 2024. We are fighting every day for that and we are on a good path.Jean-Louis Georgelin, army general in charge of reconstruction
Meanwhile, an exhibition called “Notre-Dame de Paris: At the Heart of the Construction Site” opened to visitors on Tuesday March 7th in a subway facility in front of the cathedral. Accessible free of charge, it highlights the ongoing operations at the site and the experience and skills of the workers. It also features some remnants of the fire and artwork from the cathedral.
General Georgelin said the cathedral will reopen in December 2024, in line with the target set by President Emmanuel Macron just after the fire, but it will be too late for the Paris Olympics scheduled for the summer of next year.
France’s Culture Minister Abdul-Malak said the cathedral will be open to the public but that does not imply “the renovation work will be over”. According to Euronews, Abdul-Malak indicated there will “still be works going on in 2025.”
Notre Dame suffered a major fire on April 15, 2019, which caused the entire roof to collapse. The spire that crowned, at 96 meters high, the transept of the cathedral is being rebuilt identically. The materials that have been used are: Oak wood for the structure of 500 tons and lead for the covering and ornaments of 250 tons. This last element has become a problem during the reconstruction as the European Commission is considering banning its use.
The architects have made progress with the four stone arches of the transept, the wooden scaffolding in the form of semi-arches, the carving of the stones that are to form the arches and the cleaning and restoration of the 42,000 square meters of walls. For its part, the diocese continues to work on the choice of the new church furnishings. Five designers have been selected, of which one will be the winner to do the job.