It has been confirmed that the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris will be rebuilt to look exactly as it did prior to being devastated by fire in April 2019. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has confirmed that the famous landmark will be restored to its “last known visual state," in line with a bill passed by the French Senate.

Man watching Notre-Dame de Paris fire from far, Paris, Ile-de-France, France
Fire devastated the cathedral in April 2019 © Aziz Ary Neto/Getty Images

The country set a five-year goal for the cathedral's reconstruction after the fire destroyed its spire and a large part of the roof, although the renovation work was temporarily postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The president had appeared to favor an "inventive reconstruction," but his announcement has put paid to speculation that the restoration might include a modern spire, rooftop garden, swimming pool or even or a McDonald's restaurant.

Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, France before the devastating fire
The cathedral before the devastating fire © aldorado/Shutterstock

This was partly attributable to the French government announcing an international design competition to judge new ideas for the restored cathedral, although it is now clear that this is not the direction it will now go. The country's culture ministry revealed in October 2019 that almost €1bn ($1.08bn) has been pledged for the work on the Parisien landmark. This includes removing 250 tons of melted scaffolding that was installed in the roof before the fire occurred for the restoration of the cathedral’s spire. As a result, the actual reconstruction process itself won’t actually begin until 2021.

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The stunning interior of Notre Dame prior to the fire © Brian Kinney/Shutterstock

Before the fire, the 850-year-old cathedral welcomed almost 13 million visitors each year. Construction began under the reign of Louis VII in 1163 and was completed in 1345. Among its priceless artifacts is the Crown of Thorns – a Catholic relic that is displayed on Fridays during Lent, the 8000-pipe great organ and Nicolas Coustou’s sculpture Descent From the Cross.

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The domed roof of the cathedral prior to the fire © Manjik photography/500px

Its spire was added in 1859 by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, and according to Macron's statement, a replica will be made using the cathedral’s original materials “to guarantee the authenticity, harmony and coherence of this masterpiece of Gothic art."

Notre Dame's public plaza reopened to the public a year after fire took place.

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