Three years after the devastating fire, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is finally recovering thanks to the non-stop hard work of an army of craftsmen and a forest of scaffolding, according to Agence France Press (AFP).
“Three days ahead of the anniversary of the blaze, the mammoth cleaning job of the walls, vaults and floor is almost completed, restoring the cathedral to its original whiteness,”, the public body overseeing the restoration announced.
Before the fire, the cathedral typically welcomed nearly 12 million visitors a year, as well as hosting 2,400 services and 150 concerts.
The inferno that engulfed the 12th century Gothic landmark on April 15, 2019, caused its central frame to collapse and ravaged the famous spire, clock and part of the vault -- shocking millions around the world. The gaping hole left in the building is now filled by a forest of scaffolding.
The first stage of the titanic project, which started in April 2019, aimed at ensuring ‘the safety of the building’, and involved clearing the rubble and burnt beams, reinforcing the 28 flying buttresses, and removing the deadly dust unleashed from 450 tons of lead in the structure.
This major step was carried out under strict safety measures and ended last summer at a cost of 151 million euros.
The fire triggered an outpouring of generosity with nearly 844 million euros in donations collected from 340,000 donors in 150 countries to date, according to the public body overseeing the restoration. Many of the tasks have been farmed out to specialist workshops around France.
The huge 18th century organ, the largest in France, was spared by the fire but coated in lead dust. The stained-glass windows, several statues and the 22 large-format paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries have also been sent for restoration, while many other statues had been already restored and redisplayed in the City of Architecture and Heritage in Paris.