Notre Dame: Cathedral’s spire will be restored to 19th Century design

Notre Dame spire on fire in April 2019
The cathedral caught fire in April 2019

From the BBC News website:

The spire of Notre Dame cathedral, which was destroyed in a fire last April, will be restored according to the original Gothic design.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the decision, putting an end to speculation that the spire would be rebuilt in a modern style.

Mr Macron had previously hinted he was in favour of a “contemporary gesture”.

However he has said he wants the restoration to be completed by 2024, when Paris is hosting the Olympics.

The Elysée said Mr Macron’s main concern was “not delaying the reconstruction and making it complicated – things had to be cleared up quickly”.

It added that the process of designing a modern spire, with an international competition for architects, could have caused unnecessary delays.

“The president trusts the experts and approved the main outlines of the project presented by the chief architect which plans to reconstruct the spire identically,” the Elysée said.

The announcement followed a meeting of France’s national heritage and architecture commission (CNPA).

When the 13th century roof of the Paris cathedral caught fire during restoration works in April 2019 it sparked a vast outpouring of emotion, as well as donations from across the world. 

Within two days about €900m ($1bn; £805m) had been raised for the cathedral’s restoration.

The cathedral’s first spire was built in the 13th Century, but due to extensive damage it was removed in the late 18th Century. Its replacement, designed by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was built in the mid-19th Century.

Notre Dame Cathedral with a rooftop pool
One architects’ firm drew up plans for a rooftop pool on the cathedral

Since last year’s fire, discussion over how to restore the spire has been tense. 

Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army general put in charge of the reconstruction effort, wanted a modern alternative. This idea appeared briefly to have President Macron’s backing, when he said he would be in favour of a “contemporary gesture”.

This sparked a wave of unconventional proposals from architects around the world – including one design with a rooftop pool, and another with a giant park and greenhouse on the roof.

But the cathedral’s chief architect Philippe Villeneuve spoke out strongly in favour of a faithful restoration to the previous, 19th Century design.

In one particularly heated exchange last November, Gen Georgelin told Mr Villeneuve to “shut his mouth” – causing audible gasps in a meeting of the National Assembly’s cultural affairs committee.

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4 Responses to Notre Dame: Cathedral’s spire will be restored to 19th Century design

  1. Sally says:

    Removing the spire would be a troubling statement, since the spire symbolically points upward, and is a symbol of the builders’ and the worshippers’ faith.
    It will be interesting to watch the construction of the new spire.
    In light of the spiritual significance of the spire, M. Georelin’s comments were truly disturbing.


  2. JabbaPapa says:

    One architects’ firm drew up plans for a rooftop pool on the cathedral

    It is hard to underestimate the hatred that some ghastly people have for the Catholicity of our Christian Faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks like chief architect Philippe Villeneuve took the advice of General Jean-Louis Georgelin; and I’m very grateful for this, because the esthetic appeal and historical importance of the older period in which it was constructed is not only symbolic, but, obviously captures the essence of the original conceptualization of the extremely important iconic Church of Notre Dame, and, if the horrifically devastating fire that destroyed it in April 2019 hadn’t occurred the Church would be still intact as it was for so long; over the centuries. Thank God this project is moving in the right direction. Amen.


  4. Pingback: Notre Dame: Cathedral’s spire will be restored to 19th Century design — Catholicism Pure & Simple – Views from My Front Porch

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