Notre Dame Must Be Restored Exactly the Way it Was Before Fire, French Officials Say

Firefighters continue to secure Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 16, 2019, in the aftermath of a fire that caused its spire to crash to the ground. (Credit: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Firefighters continue to secure Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 16, 2019, in the aftermath of a fire that caused its spire to crash to the ground. (Credit: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Notre Dame must be restored to exactly the way it was before a fire devastated the landmark, the French Senate said on Monday.

Rebuilding the cathedral, which was damaged in a massive fire on April 15, has caused tension between traditionalists and those who see this as an opportunity to construct a new cathedral. Paris’s Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo has said she is in favor of an identical restoration, while Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has expressed interest in a more modern approach.

The move to restore the landmark to its “last known visual state” is an attempt to stop a modern makeover. Last month, Philippe announced an international architects’ competition to rebuild, and perhaps refashion, the fallen spire, which was added during a 19th-century renovation of the 850-year-old cathedral. It was nearly 300 feet tall and made of wood and lead.

The restoration bill will allow work on the cathedral to be completed in time for the Summer Olympics being held in Paris in 2024, which falls in line with French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to have the structure rebuilt in 5 years. In April he said that when it is rebuilt, it should be “even more beautiful.”

Some have criticized the short time line as a political ploy. Restoration expert Frédéric Létoffé said he thinks it could take longer, at around “10 to 15 years.”

The latest version of the bill also removed a clause that would have given the government the power to override planning, environmental and heritage protection and public regulations.

Since there were changes made, the bill cannot pass directly into law. The Senate and the National Assembly will have to come to an agreement on a version of the bill that will become law.

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