Los Angeles Times

Notre Dame set to reopen in 2024

Reconstruc­tion of the Paris cathedral after disastrous 2019 fire is ‘on a good path,’ says official in charge.


PARIS — The reconstruc­tion of Notre Dame Cathedral is proceeding quickly enough to allow a reopening to visitors and the faithful at the end of 2024, less than six years after a fire ravaged the roof, French officials said Monday.

The cathedral’s iconic spire, which collapsed in the blaze, will gradually start to reappear this year, the army general in charge of the colossal project said.

“The return of the spire in Paris’ sky will, in my opinion, be the symbol that we are winning the battle of Notre Dame,” Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin told the Associated Press.

The reconstruc­tion began last year, after more than two years of work to make the monument stable and secure enough for artisans to start rebuilding it. The massive fire on April 15, 2019, gutted the cathedral’s sanctuary and destroyed its roof.

Authoritie­s have made the choice to rebuild the 12th century landmark, a masterpiec­e of Gothic architectu­re, the way it was before. That includes re-creating the 315foot spire added in the 19th century by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

Meanwhile, the exhibition “Notre-Dame de Paris: At the Heart of the Constructi­on Site” is set to open Tuesday in an undergroun­d facility in front of the cathedral. It highlights ongoing operations on the site and the expertise and skills of workers. It also features some remains from the fire and works of art from the cathedral.

Georgelin said the cathedral will reopen in December 2024, in line with the goal set by President Emmanuel Macron just after the fire — yet too late for the Olympic Games next summer in Paris.

“My job is to be ready to open this cathedral in 2024. And we will do it,” Georgelin said. “We are fighting every day for that, and we are on a good path.”

Reopening “means that the archbishop of the capital will be in a capacity again to celebrate the Catholic liturgy in his cathedral,” and the monument will “be open for tourists to visit,” he said.

Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak told the AP this doesn’t mean the renovation will be complete.

“There will still be some renovation work going on in 2025,” she said.

Meanwhile, the exhibition will allow visitors, including those who come for the Olympics, “to live what could be this experience of visiting Notre Dame in a brand new way,” she said. Although admission will be free, a virtual reality component will allow paying visitors to dive deeper into the history of the cathedral. “That will help also tourism in Paris,” she said.

Every day, about 1,000 people across France are involved in work to rebuild Notre Dame, according to Georgelin.

“The biggest challenge is to comply precisely every day to the planning we have done,” he said. “We have a lot of different works to achieve: the framework, the painting, the stones, the vault, the organ, the stained glass and so on.”

Philippe Jost, managing director of the government agency overseeing the reconstruc­tion, noted that the result “will be faithful to the original architectu­re” because “we are sticking to the vanished shapes of the cathedral” and “we are also sticking to the materials and constructi­on methods” of medieval times.

“We don’t do concrete vaults that look like stone; we do stone vaults that we rebuild as they were built in the Middle Ages,” Jost said. The roof framework, like the original, will be constructe­d from oak, he added.

 ?? FRANCOIS MORI Associated Press ?? THE RECONSTRUC­TION of Notre Dame Cathedral, which commenced last year, is adhering to the materials and building methods of medieval times.
FRANCOIS MORI Associated Press THE RECONSTRUC­TION of Notre Dame Cathedral, which commenced last year, is adhering to the materials and building methods of medieval times.

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