The world watched in horror on Monday as the famous 865-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames in a fierce blaze that lasted for hours.
It wasn’t long before the wooden roof and the iconic 300-foot-spire of the church collapsed, leading many people to fear that the beloved structure was a total loss. The fire took 15 hours to extinguish.
“It’s an absolute tragedy, beyond anything we could have imagined,” said French President Emmanuel Macron’s adviser on monuments, Stephen Bern.
Incredibly, though, the largely-stone building is still considered structurally sound, the New York Times reported. Even the stained-glass Rose windows, which date back to the 13th century, survived the conflagration, according to CNN.
Even with images of 200-foot-high flames burned into the minds of onlookers, efforts to rebuild one of France’s most visited sites are already underway.
“We will rebuild Notre-Dame, because that is what the French expect,” Macron declared.
Those donors include French cosmetics company L’Oreal, Apple CEO Tim Cook, luxury goods companies LVMH and Kering, French oil company Total, credit rating company Fimalac, construction group Vinci, the Bouygues telecom brothers, advertising group JCDecaux, the Societe Generale bank, the Casino retailer, European Central Bank, IT group Cap Gemini, the cofounders of the private equity group KKR, family holding company Artemis, and the City of Paris.
“Faced with such a tragedy, everyone wishes to restore life to this jewel of our heritage,” Artemis president François-Henri Pinault.
“Notre-Dame de Paris is our history, our literature, the life of our imagination, the place where we have lived all our great moments, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations. It’s the epicenter of our life,” Macron added.
Numerous religious artifacts and priceless artworks were saved from the blaze, although the fate of some pieces is still unknown. Aside from the missing roof and spire, the building appeared largely intact as the morning sun illuminated it on Tuesday.
The cathedral will likely not open for three years, a cathedral spokesman said, according to The Hill. Macron talked about a five-year plan for rebuilding.