My deepest sympathies to the people of Paris, France.

Don’t breathe the smoke; the roof of the building was solid lead.

This is a great tragedy for art and culture; I wonder what happened. I grew up scampering around that building, and I have no idea how many times I hauled myself up the stairs to the roof so I could see the city below, the clusters of tourists like ants.

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According to The Guardian the fire was started by accident during maintenance/construction work.


  1. says

    That looks awful.

    I have never been in this cathedral. The only time I was in Paris, I was there for only two days and didn’t have much time to visit interesting places.

    In general, I have mixed feelings about visiting churches. I certainly admire the art and architecture of ancient European churches, those are very beautiful buildings. But something about entering a church simply makes me feel uncomfortable. Whenever I’m inside a church, I feel uneasy, as if I didn’t belong there. I’m not even sure how to describe the feeling nor have I figured out what causes it and where the problem lies.

    The church architecture was intentionally designed to make visitors feel small and insignificant? Ok, but the same goes for many other large and impressive non religious buildings, and I don’t feel uncomfortable inside any of them. Churches symbolize a very bad idea that resulted in millennia of oppression? Ok, but the same could be said about royal palaces, and none of those have ever made me uncomfortable. I have never been religious, I have never feared God observing me as I enter a church. Nor have I feared that he might punish me for daring to enter a church while being non Christian.

    After traveling around Europe for a while, I started noticing that I’m unconsciously avoiding churches. I would enter them only together with other tourists as part of some guided tour, I just don’t go into churches alone (and most of the time I travel on my own).

    Are there any other atheists who feel uncomfortable inside churches or am I the only one?

  2. kestrel says

    Oh no. I feel sad for the loss of art and human accomplishment. I was once in the art museum of Bob Jones University (yes, I have a checkered past….) and the artwork was really amazing. No, I did not believe in it even back then, but human accomplishment amazes me even if it was done for the sake of a mistaken belief. This is a sad loss for mankind.

  3. voyager says

    For much of mankind’s history art was primarily religious and Cathedrals are full of beautiful art. The early medieval cathedrals were also marvels of engineering and beautifully constructed. I can appreciate them on an artistic level, as museums, without getting bogged down by religious doctrine or history. I can only imagine what has been lost today in Notre Dame, but it is significant.

    A friend and I are planning a trip to Paris next year when she retires. Neither of us has ever been there. I lament that I have waited too long.

  4. says

    @Ketil Tveiten:
    I saw some pictures that showed the bell tower is burning inside. If that goes the bell goes and if the bell goes the tower goes.

    Unfortunately, in order to get that airy open architecture look, the place has to be a fire trap for propagating the ignition.

  5. blf says

    France24 is reporting the fire has been declared under control, and the fire brigades are now working on cooling the building down. Also (from the Grauniad):

    Notre-Dame’s main structure has been “saved and preserved”, a Paris fire official has announced.

    “We can consider that the two towers of the north belfry Notre-Dame have been saved,” he tells BFMTV. “The structure of Our Lady is saved as a whole.”

  6. rq says

    I grew up scampering around that building, and I have no idea how many times I hauled myself up the stairs to the roof so I could see the city below, the clusters of tourists like ants.

    Quasimodo much? (Lucky you.)
    It was actually through reading Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame (in English, alas) that really brought home for me the weight of the Cathedral – it has such presence in the book. One day I will go see it as it will be, having survived so much, I doubt it will remain a ruin.

  7. nastes says

    @rq #8
    Yes, it looks like a lot of money is already being promised by the rich (100Mio EUR by the Pinault family) and also by fashion labels. They might not have ulterior motives, but the cynic in me just sees them trying to buy their way into heaven….or more influence in the government/position themselves as philanthropists.

    Then there are also calls for France and European wide collections.

    Still, even if they rebuild it, it cannot be the same. Maybe a giant ruin might be better in the long run. Yesterday evening was a shitty evening.


  8. Dunc says

    Still, even if they rebuild it, it cannot be the same.

    It’s was significantly rebuilt in the 19th century. No, it can’t be the same, but it was already not the same.

  9. nastes says

    @Dunc #10
    Yes, that is true, but as I understand it, it was renovated in the 19th century (with several additions like the central spire) but not completely rebuilt. (I might be wrong and do not claim definitive knowledge on any history of the building). And it is an interesting question, how old a change has to be to consider it a historical part of a building. 50,100, 200 years? Before I was born?

    I tend to see old buildings more as an accumulation of many centuries of change, and that collection of changes might now be gone.


  10. Curt Sampson says

    Wow. I was just clambering all over the Notre Dame (inside and outside) this weekend, albeit virtually in Assassin’s Creed Unity. While certainly not the same as seeing it in person, being able to quickly move about its surfaces and ledges and also nearby streets and buildings gives one a unique sense of its scale and grandeur.

  11. blf says

    nastes@11, Yes, it was extensively rebuilt in the 19th C. The spire which was destroyed was added then; the original spire (which apparently was much simpler / plainer then the ornate version which burnt) had been taken down some years beforehand because it had become unsafe. The rebuilding replaced roughly half of the wooden “forest” attic / roofing, so, broadly speaking, around half of what burnt was (presumably refurbished) 13th C original, and the other half 19th C rebuilt / reconstructed.

    (Somewhat unbelievably, Macron — who was giving a short speech I was listening to in simultaneous translation whilst typing the above — said he’d like to see it rebuilt in just 5 years. France24 is discussing that point now, with, it seems, the consensus he’s full of it… he might like that to be happen, but it won’t, and it’s perhaps more a coded “message” about French politics…)

  12. Owlmirror says

    Spotted elsewhere:

    news from twitter

    Dr. Dena Grayson
    ‏Verified account @DrDenaGrayson

    🚨BREAKING: miraculous news. #NotreDame’s stunning North Rose window SURVIVED the #NotreDameFire. There are multiple reports that the South and West Rose windows also survived the massive blaze.🙏

    Amazing work by the heroic firefighters of Paris!🇫🇷🤗
    4:17 AM – 16 Apr 2019


    Confirmed: all 3 Rose windows and the pipe organ SURVIVED the horrific #NotreDameFire. Incredible work by the brave firefighters of France!🇫🇷💖🙏

    Also (replies by different people):

    This is not luck either. The Paris Fire Brigade would have been training for this year in year out. Developing Local Action Plans on what to do if fire breaks out in a building or location. Given the fire intensity this window stands because of their hard work and planning. 🚒🚒

    The Paris Fire Brigade is a military unit and yesterday’s results show that training paid off.

    I wasn’t sure about the veracity of that last, but Wikipedia confirms:

    The Paris Fire Brigade (French: Brigade des sapeurs-pompiers de Paris, BSPP) is a French Army unit which serves as the primary fire and rescue service for Paris, the city’s inner suburbs and certain sites of national strategic importance.

  13. nastes says

    @blf #13:
    Thanks for the information, I somehow had in my head how the wood structure in the roof had been still almost completely original. In retrospective, that should have triggered some skeptical part of my brain. Meh.

    And yes, that five year plan of Macron sounds like a lot of boasting and hopefully will not happen, rushed renovations are never good, even in newer buildings. Not that they even have assessed the whole damage. I’m just surprised he did not say, three years to sync it with the next election…

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