How the Restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral Is Coming Along

There was a stabilizing work that had to be done first thing.

The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris has long been one of the great sites to see when in Paris, but a tragic fire in 2019 caused an incredible amount of damage. The iconic Gothic spire of the church, visible from a great distance when it was still standing, was made of lead and it crashed into the center of the building, seriously harming the roof during the conflagration. After the world watched in horror as the cathedral burned down, many groups from around the world in the days that followed pledged their financial support for a complete restoration. So, 2 years since the fire how much restoration has been completed so far?

Notre Dame on fire in 2019
Via: GodefroyParis/Wiki Commons

Some parts of the cathedral look relatively unscathed. Firefighters had to use their jets of water carefully as the historic 13th century stained glass windows are considered too precious to risk damaging. The three rose windows were not damaged in the fire amazingly.

Notre Dame North rose stained glass window
The north rose window and the other stained glass windows were unharmed. Via: Bradley Weber/Flickr

However, there is a lot of work to be done on the various structures of this historic place of worship. And, before any real work could be initiated the cathedral had to be protected from the rain and have temporary supports installed to prevent further collapse of damaged areas.

The crews working at the site also had to do a full lead decontamination since the lead spire spread hot lead across the charred structure. All of this prep work meant that works to actually repair the building were on hold until the place was stabilized. Only then could a more accurate assessment of the restoration begin.

Notre Dame covered in scaffolding
Scaffolding around Notre-Dame as it was in summer of 2021. Via: Jeanne Menjoulet/Flickr

For now scaffolding weighing more than 1,000 pounds (reaching up more than 100 feet) has been installed and the maze of scaffolds even has its own elevator. The efforts are focused around that spot where the flaming lead spire crashed into the roof.

Huge, arched, wooden supports have been built to temporarily support the stone flying buttresses and the roof in lieu of “the forest” which is what the network of ancient beams in the attic portion was known as. The flying buttress is a technique that was pioneered in the 12th century and was revolutionary in the world of architecture.

temporary wooden supports inside Notre Dame
Via: Today Show/YouTube

Along with the spire, massive stained glass windows, lead spire, and double towers these architectural elements give the cathedral its signature silhouette that people have been admiring for hundreds of years and for these reasons and more Notre-Dame was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991.

Over a billion dollars has been donated through various sources to help rebuild the church from 150 countries around the world. The non-profit group, Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, is still taking donations for the work and is regularly updating readers on what needs to be done and what’s already being addressed.

While restorations might look slow to observers, those working on the project claim that they are on target to have the cathedral restored by 2024 when the Summer Olympics are planned to take place in Paris.

Get an in-depth look at how the restoration is coming along in the video below.