World

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

Notre Dame spire on fire in April 2019Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The cathedral caught fire in April 2019

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”.

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Media captionInside Notre Dame, now missing its roof and medieval spire

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.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

President Macron is keen for the restoration to be complete before Paris hosts the Olympics in 2024

Since then, discussion over how to restore the spire has been tense. The cathedral’s chief architect Philippe Villeneuve has spoken out strongly in favour of a faithful restoration to the previous, 19th Century design.

But Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army general put in charge of the reconstruction effort, wanted a modern alternative – an idea that appeared briefly to have President Macron’s backing.

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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