Year ago the fire fell, the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Cathedral itself miraculously survived. The BBC correspondent in Paris says why the restoration of the roof stopped, what bothers conservators, and why the rector of the Cathedral compares it with a solid lady.
Notre Dame in mid-February 2020. Photo: Shutterstock
Sad, but this dilapidated, with holes — it has not lost its charm. And the walls of the empty buildings ghostly songs of the wind.
Almost the whole of last year the quiet music was blocked by construction work, tourists and traffic around. But today, this Gothic giant quiet and empty.
Construction cranes sheepishly stood above the forests disappeared tourists who tend to gather around to make selfi on the background of the already-built parts of the Cathedral.
Due to quarantine all the work here stopped.
“Lonely, but not abandoned”
“Notre Dame is 850 years of the venerable lady, — said the rector of the Cathedral Patrick Chauvet. — The old woman who was seriously injured and is now sore. I think there is a certain symbolism. Now all elderly and sick people in quarantine or in isolation. And Notre Dame is no exception. He is alone, but not abandoned to their fate.”
A year ago, on April 15, 2019, Monsieur Chauvet rested at a nearby cafe when he saw a dense white smoke which rose from the spire of Notre Dame.
He rushed into the building, which knows so well.
The fire quickly did its job, covering the medieval rafters. And then spread to the famous spire, which fell in front of thousands of stunned people.
For several critical hours, firefighters warned the French President that might not be able to save the Cathedral.
A year later on the outer walls there were wooden supports, and round up a huge network of new forest.
Ironically, they first lighted during a fire, since then the temple was undergoing restoration.
Patrick Chauvet says what is inside is still dangerous.
“He’s still very unstable, he explains. — When the old building gutters will be removed, only then can we say that the Church saved at 100%”.
During the fire melted a lot of lead. Lead dust also settled on the famous stained glass Windows.
In order to protect people who work on the restoration of the Cathedral, a specialist in stained glass Claudine Loiselle carefully examine each stained glass panel in the 19th century.
In the documentary BBC “Restoration of Notre Dame,” she told me that some of the Windows haven’t been cleaned for centuries, so it is dirt to protect them from lead precipitate during the fire.
“The first thick layer (of dust) became a kind of protection, she explained. We just need to remove all these deposits”.
Codlin restores stained glass Windows on the lower level of the Cathedral, experts believe that Windows placed above most likely suffered worse.
Masters in all parts of France, restoring furniture and objects of art that managed to save during the fire. The whole country is making efforts to minimize the lost.
However, the reason for the delay of the restoration of the Gothic architectural gems has become not only the coronavirus.
After the fire was extinguished, the work for a long time had to be postponed because of lead pollution and bad weather.
To help restorers, specialists from the French National center for scientific research working on the creation of digital models for each stone and each beam of the Cathedral.
Each item is unique, some of their own, inherent only to a particular era features. What we see, is a combination of technology XII and XXI centuries.
“It’s amazing, says the researcher Livio de Luca. In this project we use the most modern technologies. The data we collect will be studied by future generations”.
Now actively discussing how to look like a new steeple and roof of the Cathedral. Architects from different countries send their projects, where there are mirrors, solar panels and wide glass.
Exterior trim may change, but the identity of the Cathedral, his personality will remain the same — the world famous building, Notre Dame — our fancy lady, our lady.
Many centuries and currently is for many the First lady of Paris.