Photo: Gurgen Bakhshetyan/Shutterstock
On the afternoon of April 15, 2019, one of the most iconic architectural structures of Paris went up in flames. Notre Dame cathedral is one of the oldest and most memorable buildings in France’s history. People gathered around the cathedral to watch as beautiful parts of the structure fell, praying and watching in disbelief. It was a sad day for architectural history and the world.
The initial construction of Notre Dame
Looking back at images of this Gothic cathedral, it’s almost impossible to believe that the initial build of this masterpiece happened over 800 years ago. The build started during the reign of King Louis VII in 1163. Located in the Ile de la Cite, in the middle of the River Seine in Paris, the cathedral build took 182 years from start to finish. It was officially completed in 1345. Now, it’s one of the most Instagrammed destinations in the world.
Notre Dame is one of the oldest structures in Paris
While the Eiffel Tower is another iconic structure to symbolize the City of Lights, it actually isn’t as old as Notre Dame. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1887 and was finished two years later in 1889. Both structures are important to the history of this city, but in terms of years, Notre Dame is certainly the oldest to date. Even the famous Arc de Triomphe at the centre of Place Charles de Gualle doesn’t come close in age. Construction started in 1806, 643 years after the initial construction of Notre Dame. Did you know that taking photos of the Eiffel Tower at night is actually illegal?
This isn’t the first tragedy to occur for Notre Dame
According to Notre Dame’s website, the cathedral was “one time in a stage of disrepair and close to the point of demolishing,” but was soon saved by Napoleon. He was crowned Emperor in 1804 inside the cathedral.
The cathedral also experienced threats during World War II from German soldiers who said they might destroy the stained-glass Rose window, which is the biggest glass window in the world. In order to preserve this 13th-century beauty, the stained glass was removed and then replaced after the war. It has been reported that after the recent fires, the Rose window is still intact.
This also isn’t the first restoration for the cathedral. The gorgeous spire was actually a replica of the original, which was removed in 1786 for not being stable. It was rebuilt in the 1860s. The famous gargoyles around the structure are also new, which came about in the 19th-century cathedral restoration.
The fire wasn’t the first sign of problems
Back in early 2018, CBS News reported Notre Dame Cathedral’s announcement for renovations on the building. It was currently undergoing $6.8 million in renovations both on the spire, which is made of 250 tonnes of lead. Problems within the cathedral were noticed when cracks started to appear in the stone, which could make the structure unstable.
Although the roof (made of 5,000 oak trees) caught fire, The New York Times claimed that Notre Dame is still structurally sound after the devastating fire. As investigations of the fire continue, there seems to still be hope for this incredible structure to once again stand in all of its majestic glory.
Next, check out these mind-blowing facts about the Eiffel Tower!