The Notre Dame is on Fire

Joe Sperrin

On the night of 15 April 2019 and in the early hours of 16 April 2019, Notre Dame, the 850 year old French Gothic masterpiece was set ablaze destroying the building’s main ceiling and collapsing the infamous spire.

Quentin Maheas,  Notre Dame . 2019.

Quentin Maheas, Notre Dame. 2019.

The cathedral, famous for a lot of reasons, was reported to be on fire during a mass service on the evening of 15th April 2019. At this point witnesses say that it seemed to only be a drill or a small burst of smoke that perhaps set the alarm off. No one expected what was to follow. For several hours following this the building was engulfed in flames. Designed by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and is a figurehead for Gothic Architecture in France and throughout Western Europe. With a wide array of feign buttresses and typical Gothic design features and decor the building sits the heart of Paris and from hearing the sounds of onlookers it is easy to determine the catastrophic affect this tragedy has on the people of Paris.

Image by Ubisoft Montreal. 2014.

Image by Ubisoft Montreal. 2014.

However, this is not the first time that the cathedral has suffered damage. During the French Revolution, revolutionaries stormed the building destroying many of the statues, windows and other parts of the Cathedral. In 2014 Ubisoft, based in Montreal, released the game Assassins Creed Unity, a game based in Paris during the main throws of the revolution in the late 18th Century. The digital modelling that the firm used to map the cathedral is going to be used to help redesign the building itself, an integration of architecture and software design that has been labelled as groundbreaking.

Notre Dame , BBC. 2019.

Notre Dame, BBC. 2019.

So what is the for Notre Dame? Some reports suggest that the Cathedral will be replaced with a temporary wooden structure while new and improved designs are made of the main ceiling and spire. The French government have opened up a competition for the new designs of the cathedral to several artists from around the globe. All that can be confirmed is that the spire will be replaced and it will be grander than ever thanks to the €600 million donation from various fashion companies from around the world. The Easter service traditionally held there will also be moved to a nearby church whilst the building is deemed safe to move inside of, so far only firefighters have been inside to see the remains altarpiece with golden cross. Two things can be taken from this fire: firstly that the people of Paris will not be shaken by such as tragedy, and that we are to be thankful that no one was harmed during the blaze.



Patrick Jackson, “Notre-Dame fire: How the new tech might help rebuild”, BBC News, Accessed 18/04/19.

Ben Luke, “The Notre Dame fire: what happens next?”, TheArtNewspaper, Accessed 18/04/19.

Alex Greenberger, “French Government to Hold Architecture Competition for Notre-Dame Rebuilding”, ArtNews, Accessed 18/04/19.