Notre Dame: World Heritage goes up in flames

The most famous cathedral in France narrowly escaped destruction

Major fire in the cathedral Notre Dame des Paris. A little later, the flaming pinnacle collapsed. © LeLaisserPasserA38 / CC-by-sa 4.0
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Fire in the World Heritage: Last night the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris went up in flames. The fire destroyed the roof of the church building completed in 1345 and collapsed the central spire. However, the two west towers and the walls of the nave were saved. The cathedral, which survived two world wars and the French Revolution, narrowly escaped complete destruction.

On April 15, 2019, people in Paris will remember for a long time. That night, one of the city's landmarks and one of the world's most famous cathedrals went up in flames: Notre Dame de Paris. The fire broke out around 6:30 pm, it quickly reached out to the wooden interior of the church building and the roof over - flames and smoke were widely visible.

Just barely escaped the destruction

In the early evening the burning cathedral tower of the cathedral collapsed and toppled on the burning roof. Around 500 firefighters were on duty to prevent the flames from spreading to the two large towers of the cathedral and a collapse of the walls. During the night, the fire was brought under control and largely extinguished. The cause of the fire is still unclear, but it is believed that the recent restoration work has played a role.

The extent of the damage is still unknown. Whether, for example, the valuable glass windows of the church and the large organ have survived the heat and the fire, could not be clarified yet. At least the largest part of the treasury should have been brought to safety in time. To this belongs a cloak of King Louis IX as well as a crown of thorns which Jesus Christ is said to have worn during his crucifixion.

Center of France

There is great sympathy and sadness worldwide for the brand of this icon of church architecture. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the most famous sights in Paris - it is visited annually by 13 million people. In addition to the Eiffel Tower, it is considered one of the city's landmarks and the national "sanctuary" of France. Since 1991, Notre Dame has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. display

To this day, Notre Dame is officially the center of France: A marker on the church forecourt marks the zero point the reference point for all distance indications of the roads or railways that lead to Paris. The church was also known by a multi-filmed novel by the French writer Victor Hugo, who told in 1831 the unfortunate story of Quasimodo, the Glitter of Notre Dame.

Deaths, weddings and two wars

Notre Dame is still considered the most important early Gothic church in the world. Its construction began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. In addition to its vault and chancel, the main feature is the west facade of the cathedral with the famous rose window one of the largest rose window windows in Europe. A band with 28 king figures stretches across the façade the famous King's Gallery.

As one of the main churches of Paris, Notre Dame witnessed several historical events - from weddings and burials of French kings to the trial of Joan of Arc in 1455 until the imperial reign of Napoleon Bonaparte in the Year 1801. Previously, during the French Revolution, the cathedral was stormed and much of its interior and statues were destroyed. The church was desecrated and declared a temple for the goddess of reason. Later, they were even used as a wine store.

The Treasures of Notre Dame. Bit Project News

Quasimodo and the great restoration

But in the following years, the cathedral deteriorated rapidly. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was even to be demolished. It was not until the novel by Victor Hugo and the commitment of some city officials Notre Dame got public attention again wurde and was extensively renovated in 1843. As part of this work she got a new pinnacle which was now destroyed in the fire and the famous gargoyles on its facade.

After Notre Dame has survived the revolution, two world wars and countless conversions, she would almost have fallen victim to fire last night. Shortly before the Grand Brands, a renovation of Notre Dame had begun again. An extensive piece of equipment included large parts of the roof and the crossing tower. The statues placed there were brought down only four days before the fire, because they were to be restored only because they have survived the fire.

- Nadja Podbregar