The Notre Dame Cathedral Catches Fire

Last Monday was a sad day.

I was in my French class when we got the news that the famous Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris had, under mysterious circumstances, caught fire.

Last year, I had the opportunity to go to Paris for a study abroad trip that was offered through the UPR's English Department offers. I had always dreamt of visiting Paris. I couldn’t believe that I was finally going! One of the places that I was the most excited to visit was Notre Dame, since The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of my favorite movies ever, and I needed to see this majestic structure in real life. When I finally saw it, I almost burst into tears. I was taken aback by how beautiful it is: pictures don’t do it justice.

I am forever grateful that I got to visit it, witness its beauty and listen to the famous bells.

When I found out that it was burning, my heart broke.

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris started construction in the year 1163 and it was finished in 1431, it's the most notable and famous cathedral in all of France and probably all of Europe. It's the prime example of Gothic architecture and is a structure that is revered in the world of architecture, history, and art. It's the patrimony of France, one of its best-known symbols other than the Eiffel Tower. This cathedral has survived numerous wars, including World War II, and it has continued to thrive so there is no doubt that it would be able to survive this fire. However, even if it were to survive, there would be so much that would be lost.

Notre Dame contains artwork dating back to the 12th century, that's something that could never ever be replaced. It would be a loss to French and European history. The famous Rose Windows, stained glass windows that are best admired from the inside of the cathedral that was built in the 13th century, could most likely be lost in the fire. Countless other stained glass art could also be lost and countless paintings that are kept inside.

The fire was difficult to control because since the structure is so old, too much water could actually cause it to collapse. The solution was to use the water to keep the fire from spreading any further, and to keep the bells from falling because that would cause the towers to collapse and nothing would be salvageable if that happened.

It was a long and sad day for us, and a long and sad night for the French, who stood near their beloved cathedral and watched it burn without being able to do anything about it. The French media updated the people as best as they could, but there was not that much to do other than watch as the firefighters did their best to control the fire. The famous spire tower that can be seen from the back. It collapsed not long after the fire started. Some of the sections of that roof were also lost because it was made of wood.

At around 11:20 Paris time, it was declared that the towers and the rest of the structure were safe and out of risk for collapse, but there was still not telling what was going on inside it.

After some more time, it was reported that the inside of the cathedral did not suffer a lot of damage. There are still numerous reports going on, and we won’t know for sure what else was damaged yet. Still, we seem to have good news after all the sadness and heartbreak this had brought upon us.

Some may say “It’s just a cathedral”. However, it's much more than that. It's a symbol of France, of their history. Some may look at it and feel inspired by how much history it has seen and survived, it's a symbol for the religious people who find peace in it and it helps them cope. It's art and part of what makes us human, the fact that humans united and built that piece of art is mindblowing. There's so much art and history inside that place, something that would be a shame to lose and future generations will not witness. Losing the Notre Dame Cathedral would be the exact same tragedy as the museum that burned in Brazil, the numerous cathedrals and temples that countries have lost in the war, it's all devastating.

We should be grateful that this was one case where it was saved, that the damage can be restored and it can be preserved for future generations because no matter how bad it is, history doesn’t deserve to be erased.


Picture Credits: Gabriela Burgos