In one of those "This is terrible but it could have been worse" situations, Notre Dame Cathedral was partially destroyed in a fire on April 15 2019. The good news is that the walls did not collapse which would have meant rebuilding from scratch so after a few years of work the historic church should be fully restored.
Notre Dame Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and is perhaps the most famous church in the world. It is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris and work was begun in 1163 and completed in 1345. During the French Revolution, the cathedral was rededicated to the Cult of Reason, and then to the Cult of the Supreme Being and many of the treasures of the cathedral were either destroyed or plundered.
For those people who feel like the fire has somehow ruined the authenticity of the cathedral and whatever is done and no matter how beautiful it is restored it won't be the same should take note of the following from Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City by Stephane Kirkland, which I recommend to anyone visiting Paris who wants to understand the city:
“Today, while most visitors imagine that they are seeing the building as it always stood, they are in reality seeing its interpretation and reconstitution through the eyes of nineteenth-century architects. Notre-Dame, as unlikely as it may seem, is in large part a monument of the Second Empire.”
“Notre-Dame had already seen many changes and additions in its close to six centuries of existence. (The architects) Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc therefore confronted an issue many preservationists face, that of what, among the many modifications over the years, to keep, or, in some cases, to reinstate. They ended up removing the eighteenth-century decoration of the choir to restore its earlier, medieval character. They decided to maintain the twelfth-century rose windows in the thirteenth-century nave, despite the anachronism.”
“They did a great deal of reconstruction. For example, they knew from drawings that a spire had existed atop Notre-Dame in the past. So they rebuilt one that was as faithful as possible to the images they had studied. Since much of the cathedral’s ornamental sculpture was missing, they had it reconstituted, where necessary by extrapolation from contemporaneous cathedrals where the sculptures had been better preserved, such as Chartres, Amiens, and Reims. Many of the sculptures adorning the facade of Notre-Dame are therefore not originals, but reconstitutions. The architects injected some entirely new ideas: The famous chimeras at the top of the facade, for example, were a creation of Viollet-le-Duc. The architects were, on the other hand, uncompromising in their use of the same materials and techniques as were used by the original builders, eschewing new resins, cements, and artificial materials. The restoration was complete by 1864.”
— Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City by Stephane Kirkland
These photos were taken by myself and by Andrea Jerome during three different trips to Paris.