France’s Notre Dame Cathedral is expected to reopen for visitors and Catholic masses at the end of 2024.
It will be less than six years after a shocking fire tore through the roof of the building.
The restoration project is currently on track to meet the reopening deadline of December 2024 set by president Emmanuel Macron just after the blaze. Unfortunately, it won’t quite be ready for the Paris Olympics scheduled for summer 2024.
“My job is to be ready to open this cathedral in 2024 - and we will do it," says General Georgelin, the army general in charge of the reconstruction project.
"We are fighting every day for that and we are on a good path.”
Culture Minister Abdul-Malak said that although the cathedral will be open to the public, it "doesn't mean that all the renovation work will be over". He added that there will "still be some renovation works going on in 2025."
Rebuilding Notre Dame cathedral
The reconstruction of the Parisian icon has been an enormous task. It began in 2022, after more than two years of work to make the monument stable and secure enough for artisans to start rebuilding it.
Authorities have made the choice to rebuild the 12th-century masterpiece of Gothic art, the way it was before. This includes recreating the 96-metre-high spire from the 19th century designed by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.
The cathedral's iconic centrepiece, which collapsed in the fire, will reappear above the monument this year, in a powerful signal of its revival.
“The return of the spire in Paris’ sky will in my opinion be the symbol that we are winning the battle of Notre Dame," says General Georgelin.
An estimated 1,000 people across France are working on the restoration of Notre Dame every day.
“We have a lot of different works to achieve: the framework, the painting, the stones, the vault, the organ, the stained glasses and so on,” Georgelin explains.
A new exhibition on Notre Dame
An exhibition called “Notre-Dame de Paris: at the heart of the construction site” pays tribute to hundreds of artisans working on the reconstruction. It opens today (Tuesday 7 March) in Paris.
The exhibit can be found in an underground facility located in front of the cathedral and is free to enter.
It highlights ongoing operations to restore the cathedral, showcases the expertise and skills of artisan workers and features some works of art rescued from the fire.