A day after a fiery blaze swept through Notre Dame, the first pictures of the cathedral’s destruction have been released
About 24 hours after the first horrifying images of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral on fire began to come in from Paris, France, we have our first images of the interior of the 850-year-old church post-blaze.
The photos of the medieval landmark – a sacred place to millions – are difficult to look at, although the first information about the building in the wake of the fire comes with some good news regarding the structure of the building and chances of repair.
Much of the building’s roof, which was made primarily of wood, was lost in the blaze, which started on Monday evening, and which was put out by over 400 firefighters from across the city. The roof, along with the cathedral’s iconic spire, burned intensely, as the world watched, before collapsing into the building itself.
One split picture shows the before and after, highlighting the damage done.
The good news amid the destruction is that some of the building’s most precious art was across town for the fire to be repaired and restored by artists, saved from any fire or smoke damage. In addition, the church’s renowned stained glass windows also survived, even if they sustained smoke damage.
Certainly, the largest concern moving forward will be the collapsed roof of the building, which not only damaged the church beneath its fall, but which also now exposes the interior of the building to the outside elements.
The best news, though, is that the building itself, which was built largely of stone beginning back in 1160, has been declared structurally sound, and it can be restored with care and hard work. Of course, experts believe that the restoration, done the right way, could take about 40 years.
“It’s going to be a case of assessing the damage, strengthening everything that’s there, do a full inventory of what we’ve lost, and then find the building materials,” Dr. Emily Guerry, Senior Lecturer in Medieval European History at Britain’s University of Kent, told CBS News. “In the modern world, we don’t build like we used to.”
In one image, you can see literal tons of debris on the cathedral floor caused by the tile and wood from the collapsed roof.
There were 13,000 beams made of ancient oak in the roof alone, and about 3,000 trees will be needed to carefully replace them – and we don’t build things in the same way that they did 800 years ago, in case you were wondering. In addition, even finding that many large oak trees will be a challenge in today’s world.
And while much of the stone structure remains standing, we will still need high-quality stone to replace it, that is quarried and cut in a specific way, by specially trained masons, in order to replace damaged areas of the building.
Even the glass, which is mostly intact, will have to be assessed, cleaned and restructured, since some of it is damaged, melted, or warped.
The good news is that people across France and across the world are already raising funds for the project. In fact, the country’s super rich have come together to promise $675 million toward fixing the iconic building. Still, although it’s great news that the building is salvageable, it will be a long, delicate, and expensive road to restoration, as the pictures show.