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The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one of France’s most popular tourist attractions, is undergoing a 5-year restoration following a devastating fire in 2019. The blaze caused the roof and spire to collapse, leading to a global wave of solidarity and support for the restoration efforts. French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to complete the restoration within five years, with the projected completion date now set for the end of 2024.

In June 2020, work at the cathedral was delayed due to the pandemic, but progress was made by removing charred scaffolding that had encased the spire during previous restoration works. In August 2020, efforts began to restore the cathedral’s organ, which survived the fire but was coated in toxic lead dust. The organ, France’s largest musical instrument with 8,000 pipes, is expected to be dismantled, cleaned, and reassembled by the end of this year. In March 2021, the first of 1,000 historic French oak trees selected to rebuild the spire were chosen from the Bercé forest in the French Loire region.

By September 2021, work to secure the cathedral’s structure was completed, with carpenters, scaffolding experts, climbers, and others building temporary structures and a large ‘umbrella’ to protect the building’s towers, vaults, and walls. Bidding for the remaining reconstruction work commenced, with European master craftsmen from workshops across France beginning the painstaking process of cleaning and restoring the cathedral’s famed stained glass windows in spring 2022. In July 2023, massive oak trusses were lifted onto Notre Dame, marking a significant milestone in the restoration process.

Tragedy struck in August 2023 with the sudden death of General Jean-Louis Georgelin, the French army general appointed to oversee the restoration. President Macron praised him as the “greatest soldier” dedicated to restoring Notre Dame “stone by stone.” In December 2023, a golden rooster symbolizing Notre Dame’s rebirth was returned to the spire, along with religious relics placed in a time capsule inside the bird. By February 2024, scaffolding was removed to unveil the cathedral’s new spire adorned with the golden rooster and a cross, providing a glimpse into Notre Dame’s future as it nears its grand reopening.

Restorers are hopeful that Notre Dame Cathedral will be able to reopen by the end of 2024, marking the completion of the extensive restoration project. The timeline of events in the restoration showcases the dedication and effort put into bringing the historic landmark back to life after the devastating fire. The fast progress made in recent years, despite pandemic delays and the loss of key figures involved in the project, demonstrates the resilience and determination of those working to restore Notre Dame to its former glory.

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