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Notre Dame may reopen as Christmas 2024 gift

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-08 07:39

New-look cathedral

Restoration works on Notre Dame were suspended in March 2020 due to the outbreak of the pandemic, and French renovation teams set the task of finishing a new-look cathedral by 2024. Before the fire, Notre Dame welcomed some 2 million visitors each year.

The blaze almost destroyed the 12th-century church and millions worldwide witnessed the cathedral burning live on television. The collapse of its wooden spire was one of the most dramatic moments of the fire that burned for 15 hours until it was brought under control.

Soon after the blaze on April 15,2019, Macron promised the cathedral would be "rebuilt, more beautiful than before, and I want it to be finished within five years". He later insisted he wanted it to look exactly as it was before, rejecting calls for a modern spire in place of the 19th-century one.

AFP reported that an identical version of the spire has been made from the same original materials: 500 metric tons of oak wood for the structure and 250 tons of lead for the cover and ornaments.

The cleaning of the cathedral's interior walls has now been completed. Last year, conservationists expressed concerns that cleaning interior stonework would cause it to become "artificially bright".

Speaking to The Times newspaper, Philippe Villeneuve, the chief architect of French national historic monuments, said that once the works are completed the cathedral would be "luminous".

The cleaning process involved the application of a latex paste to the interior stonework, the newspaper reported.

"When the cathedral reopens, you will see it as you have never seen it before," said Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army general put in charge of the restoration project.

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