A fire broke out in Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral recently. What is the historicalsignificance of Notre-Dame cathedral?

Notre-Dame de Paris is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and is distinguished for its size, antiquity, and architectural interest.

Significance of the building:

  • It took 182 years to complete the construction of the Notre-Dame de Paris.
  • The church had been a centre of attraction for pilgrims for centuries as it had priceless artefacts in its possession such as the Holy Crown of Thorns, believed to have been worn by Jesus before the crucifixion, a piece of the “True Cross” upon which he was said to be crucified, and a nail from the crucifixion.
  • Notre-Dame, which housed several statues of kings, had attracted the anger of protesters during the French Revolution in 1789. They ransacked the cathedral, destroyed the royal statues and brought down the original spire.
  • When Catholicism was banned in France during the Revolution, Notre-Dame was turned into a Temple of Reason.
  • Napoleon chose the damaged church for his coronation as Emperor of France in 1804.
  • Two distinct features of Notre-Dame are its flying buttresses and gargoyles.

Challenges in rebuilding:

  • The blaze has destroyed the cathedral’s roof and spire, its structure remains sound “with some vulnerabilities”. Most of the relics, including the Crown of Thorns, were rescued from the blaze.
  • The original roof and the beams were wooden and rebuilding them exactly as they were before the fire needs hundreds of trees, which itself is a challenge.
  • The restoration cost is yet to be decided as the extent of the damage is still being assessed. France might get donations for the restoration, but large-scale spending on the cathedral could also cause social tensions, especially at a time when the economy is going through a tough phase and grappling with large-scale protests.
Share Socially