Notre Dame cathedral reconstruction can begin at last

Work on the famous site in France is expected to start during the coming months

After more than two years of work to stabilise and protect the building, work can finally begin on rebuilding the Notre Dame cathedral. AP
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Restoration work on France’s fire-damaged Notre Dame cathedral can now start, more than two years after a fire ripped through the historic world famous site.

Finishing the work to shore up Notre Dame de Paris marks the beginning of the end for the project to rebuild the cathedral.

The medieval edifice survived an inferno on April 15, 2019, but the spire collapsed and much of the roof was destroyed.

“The cathedral stands solid on its pillars, its walls are solid, everything is holding together,” said Jean-Louis Georgelin, head of the public entity tasked with rebuilding the cathedral.

“We are determined to win this battle of 2024, to reopen our cathedral in 2024. It will be France's honour to do so and we will do so because we are all united on this goal.”

Soon after the blaze, President Emmanuel Macron said the cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, would be rebuilt.

He later promised to have it reopened to worshippers by 2024, when France hosts the Olympic Games.

The cathedral will be restored to its previous design, including the 96-metre spire designed by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-1800s and for which new timber has been selected.

Restoration work is expected to start during the coming months after a bidding process to select companies.

Before that, a cleaning operation for the building's interior walls and floor will start this month.

The focus until now had been on making the cathedral safe before restoration work could begin, which included the strenuous task of removing 40,000 pieces of scaffolding that were damaged in the blaze

The final phase of efforts to secure its structure included reinforcing the fire-damaged vaults with giant wooden arch-shaped frames.

Notre Dame's famous Grand Organ is also being restored, with its 8,000 pipes dismantled and sent to organ builders all over France.

The project is on track to meet Mr Macron's reopening target date.

Updated: September 19, 2021, 4:57 AM