On the evening of April 15, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris erupted into flames. The Catholic church was one of the central attractions of the city and one of the most important historical and architectural treasures of the world.
The fire most likely began on the scaffolding which had been erected for restoration work on the Cathedral. The fire quickly spread to the roof and then the famous central spire of the cathedral, which eventually came crashing down altogether. The fire was not extinguished until Tuesday morning.
French President Emmanuel Macron later declared that it would take five years to restore the damaged roof of the Cathedral.
The effects of the fire
Thankfully, the load-bearing structures of the cathedral were not damaged, and the most important pieces of art were successfully evacuated from the burning building and saved. However, the oak frame of the temple and XV century organ were almost completely destroyed.
Notre Dame Cathedral was erected on the initiative of the Paris Bishop Maurice de Sully over the course of almost two hundred years – from 1163 to 1345.
Macron promised to restore the cathedral as soon as possible, planning to raise funds both in France and around the world.
World leaders come together
The scale of the catastrophe for Europe is so great that world leaders, regardless of religion or diplomatic relations, expressed their condolences and offered their assistance in restoring the temple.
Condolences were expressed by US President Donald Trump, while the European Union as a whole will be taking part in financing the restoration work. Russia offered to lend their craftsmen and building materials to the effort.
The leaders of African countries, even those which were former French colonies, also expressed their condolences ( including the heads of Egypt, Senegal, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Congo and other states).
Turkey also offered its condolences over the devastating loss of this important piece of French cultural heritage.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he is “deeply upset” after a fire gutted Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
L’incendie effrayant qui a ravagé la cathédrale Notre-Dame, l’un des symboles de Paris et patrimoine commun de l’humanité, nous a aussi profondément bouleversé.
En mon nom et au nom de mon peuple, je transmets au peuple français mes vœux de rétablissement.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) April 16, 2019
As Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, the destruction of Notre Dame is a “catastrophe for all humanity”
Nous suivons avec grande tristesse l’incendie ravageant la Cathédrale de Notre Dame à #Paris. La destruction de ce chef d’œuvre architectural appartenant au Patrimoine Mondial est une catastrophe pour l’humanité entière.
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) April 15, 2019
Presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun noted that the cathedral is not “just a symbol of France” but also “part of humanity’s shared heritage.”
It is with very heavy hearts that we received the devastating news about the fire in Paris, France.
The Notre Dame cathedral is not just a symbol of France but part of humanity’s shared heritage. pic.twitter.com/JYXbc44PcO
— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) April 15, 2019
Many saw the fire as a symbolic “sunset of Europe”, or even the signal of the apocalypse, and the end of the old European era. Notre Dame Cathedral was associated not only with France but also with the Gothic culture and Christian heritage.
At the same time, it could also be a sign for world leaders to unite in order to protect their cultural and religious heritage, and to offer each other support in doing so. When the terrorist attack was committed against the mosque in Christchurch New Zealand, the whole world felt the tragedy and expressed support for Muslims, and Turkey in particular. Today, the whole world is with France.