It's a 'Beautiful' Moment for Parisians

Notre Dame's reconstructed spire unveiled
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2024 7:22 AM CST
It's a 'Beautiful' Moment for Parisians
Scaffolding is being removed around the spire of Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, showing the rooster and the cross, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024 in Paris.   (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)

Notre Dame is starting to look a bit more like it did before it was ravaged by fire in April 2019. Though the medieval building's exoskeleton remains, scaffolding around its peak came down this week, revealing the new spire, which is "identical in appearance, materials (oak framework covered with lead), and construction methods" to the previous 19th century one, according to Friends of Notre Dame, a nonprofit leading fundraising efforts for the rebuild, per the Washington Post. "She appears once again in the sky! French pride," said French President Emmanuel Macron, who vowed in 2019 to rebuild the cathedral within five years. Despite initial hope it would be ready in time for the Summer Olympics in Paris, it's now expected to reopen Dec. 8.

There's been much debate about whether chief architect Philippe Villeneuve made the right choice to install a replacement spire, rather than a modern design, per the Post. "If we were taking a medieval approach to this medieval building, we would repair it in the style of our day," Meredith Cohen, a medieval architecture historian at UCLA, tells the outlet. "It's toying with history a little bit and not being visually transparent." The use of lead also "caused much debate because of its potential toxicity," per AFP.

But for Parisian Frederico Benani, who watched the cathedral burn, the new spire "gives us hope." "I can open the window in the morning. I see Notre Dame. I see the spire," he tells CBS News. "It's, for me, beautiful and it's much better [than] before." The only real difference is the golden rooster that tops the spire. Designed by Villeneuve, it's reimagined as a phoenix engulfed in flames, symbolizing rebirth. Scaffolding should be removed from the remainder of the spire in time for the Paris Olympics, beginning July 26, per AFP. Meanwhile, "an army of carpenters, stone masons, iron workers and artisans from about 20 other different specialties" continue to work on the building, most of which remains concealed, per CBS. (More Notre Dame Cathedral stories.)

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