PARIS: The Notre-Dame cathedral is Europe’s most-visited historic monument, drawing some 12 to 14 million individuals annually.
Listed here are some lesser-known details concerning the Gothic cathedral that’s being painstakingly rebuilt after being partly engulfed by hearth 5 years in the past:
One-time wine cellar
Within the 1790s, throughout the French Revolution, the cathedral was plundered and seized as public property.
Anti-clerical radicals attacked the facade, eradicating biblical statues and decapitating them within the cathedral’s sq., in acts harking back to the guillotining of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.
Over the following few years, earlier than Napoleon topped himself emperor there in 1804, the cathedral was used for a wide range of functions, together with storing barrels of wine for the Revolutionary Military.
Saved by a novel
Salvation got here within the type of a novel – Victor Hugo’s 1831 “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”.
The vastly well-liked novel triggered an outpouring of emotion amongst Parisians over the state of disrepair into which the cathedral had fallen, resulting in a significant restoration.
Between 1844 and 1865, it was revamped by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, who added the spire that collapsed within the 2019 blaze.
The fearsome-looking guardian-demons adorning the higher gallery of Notre-Dame’s twin towers – together with a winged, horned creature cupping his head in his arms – are comparatively current additions.
Whereas the leering gargoyles that spout rainwater from their open mouths have been there from the beginning for drainage, the chimeras, that are purely ornamental monsters, are Viollet-le-Duc’s innovations.
He was impressed by the work of famend French caricaturist Honore Daumier in addition to descriptions in Hugo’s novel.
The gargoyles and chimeras principally survived the 2019 blaze.
The picture of the spire in flames crashing to the bottom made front-page information around the globe.
However it wasn’t the primary time the 96-metre (315-foot) steeple had grabbed headlines.
In January 1969, throughout the Vietnam Warfare, Communist activists raised a North Vietnamese flag atop the spire after sabotaging the staircase main as much as it.
Firefighters wanted a helicopter to take away the flag.
A chopper was wanted once more a number of years later in October 1972 to take away one other flag, this one hoisted by separatists from the north-western French area of Brittany.
One of many largest losses within the 2019 hearth was the medieval beamed roof often known as the “forest”, most of which dates from the early 1200s.
To rebuild the roof and spire the federal government ordered the felling of two,000 oak timber.
Drones have been utilized in some locations to pick mature oaks with lengthy, straight trunks. After being lower, they have been left to dry for between 12 and 19 months earlier than getting used within the restoration.