When Paris’ famous Notre Dame was ravaged by a fire in 2019, almos the whole world mourned. The building had been a symbol of France for centuries and, as the flames engulfed it, the French held their breath. Once the fire was extinguished, it quickly became clear that most of the building was left untouched – the majority of the damage was done on the roof and spire. Even so, a major renovation project was put in place and in just one year from now, the French symbol will once again open to the public.
Even though the official reopening will take place a year from now, the cathedral is already getting quite a bit of its original grandeur back. The Archbishop of Paris blessed the new rooster of the cathedral before it was put at the top of the landmark on 16 December. The original was found after the fire but turned out to be too damaged to be repaired. Architect Philippe Villeneuve, who designed the new topper, says the wings of the rooster are meant to resemble flames, as a testament the cathedral rose from its ashes like a phenix.
“The rooster now means it’s the very end of the rebuilding of the spire,” Philippe Jost, who is in charge of the restoration, said. “The spire stands 96 meters tall, and once the roofers have covered it, we’ll be able to take the scaffolding off and Parisians and visitors will be able to see this flamboyant rooster.”
Jost also stated that a lot has been done to protect the cathedral from burning down again in the future. “A range of fire protection devices, including a misting system in the attics, where the oak frame and spire are located” have been put into place in order to prevent any future disasters.
As far as the renovation goes, the whole building has been rebuilt exactly as it was before the ravaging fire. The only modern touch to the cathedral will be the addition of six contemporary stained-glass windows, which will be designed by the winner of a competition that still has to be organised.
Back in 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron declared he wanted the Notre Dame to reopen within five years. With the official reopening planned in 2024, it looks like that deadline will be respected, which the president confirmed on a visit to the cathedral on December 8th. However, even though the initial reopening was planned for the summer, in time for the Olympics in Paris, that date has been pushed back to December 8th, 2024, due to several delays, amongst others caused by the pandemic.