PARIS: More Notre Dame

Time to read:

2 minutes

After the 2019 fire that gutted the roof, it seems especially appropriate to admire Notre Dame, which dates to the 12th Century. Goal of the restorers is to re-open the cathedral by 2024, when France plays host to the Olympic games.

Notre Dame before the fire.

The 225-foot-high north tower had scaffolding decades before the fire. In the 2019 blaze, firefighters feared if that tower’s eight huge bronze-alloy bells fell, they would bring down the south tower and the cathedral would be lost.

The circular stained-glass, or “rose” windows, are one of the most prized aspects of Notre Dame. These 12th and 13th Century works of art were not severely damaged in the fire, but dust and dirt from the smoke required technicians to painstakingly rub the stained glass of 39 high windows to absorb the deposits without damage.

One of the first cathedrals to use flying buttresses was Notre Dame. These arched, external supports enabled builders to erect very tall but comparatively thin stone walls, so that much of the wall space could be filled with stained-glass windows.

Picking up after the fire, architects discovered that iron “staples” were used throughout the building to bind stones. Thus, Notre Dame was the first Gothic cathedral to use the technique, which helped make it the tallest cathedral of its age. A row of staples on one wall suggests iron was used systemically as early as the 13th Century. Previously, architects had believed the iron stemmed from much more modern building upgrades.

A spiral staircase of fan-shaped steps leads to a gallery that offers a close-up of the gargoyles that played supporting roles in Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

During daylight at the height of the tourist season, the square in front of the cathedral looks like this day after day.


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