Notre-Dame de Paris needs our help. Help us save Notre Dame de Paris
Notre-Dame Cathedral has stood for over 800 years, and while the recently restored western façade is magnificent, the rest of the building is in dire need of repair.
The cathedral has been slowly deteriorating for generations, facing challenges like pollution, rain and the inferior quality of the stone used in the last restoration that took place in the 1800s. On the terraces, stones crumble into sand when touched. With each day that passes, we witness the irreparable loss of sculptural and decorative elements, like gargoyles and pinnacles. If the weakening basic infrastructure of the building is left unattended, the cathedral is deteriorating at such a rate that within a few years we could see the partial collapse of the cathedral.
The 19th Century Restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris
The cathedral was previously restored in the 19th century. The cathedral was, at the time, in a dire and desperate state. Author Victor Hugo used his 1831 novel Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), to sound the alarm about the state of the cathedral. This novel sparked the legend of Quasimodo and also reinvigorated interest in the cathedral, spurring the French Government to undertake a large restoration effort that lasted nearly 20 years. Since then, no major restorations have been done, with the exception of the West Façade in the 1990s.
Crucial Renovation Works Have Officially Begun
A Ministry of Culture blueprint estimates the restoration budget will cost approximately $180 million. The French Government has agreed to contribute $50 million over the next 10 years, with private funding responsible for the remaining $130 million. If nothing is done, in 10 years parts of this landmark will disappear altogether.
Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris’ mission is to raise funds to accelerate this renovation and save one of the most iconic jewels of Gothic architecture in the world.
Over the next four years, we plan to complete the first phase of the restoration which consists of the spire, the choir, the terraces, and the sacristy – the areas assessed as the most vulnerable parts of Notre-Dame Cathedral. This phase will cost an estimated $72 million.
This first phase started earlier this month, thanks to contributions from 1,100 generous donors, primarily from France and the United States.
1. The Spire
Scaffolding has started going up on the spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral and the statues that adorn the spire will be removed for restoration. The spire is one of the cathedral’s most high priority elements as it is in the most critical condition. Setting up the scaffolding is a delicate process, as time, pollution and disrepair have severely weakened the structure. Our experts are taking great care with the scaffolding, which will be completed in June. Then renovation work on the upper part of the spire will begin in July and will last approximately 4 years.
Estimated cost: $13.2 million
2. Flying Buttress #10
In addition to the work on the spire, work began on flying buttress #10 at the back of the cathedral. The flying buttresses are architectural elements that support Notre-Dame Cathedral’s stunning vaulted ceilings and are a characteristic of its Gothic style. They also play a very important role: they help support the weight of the cathedral’s roof, which is distributed through the rib vaults in the ceiling and held up by the buttresses rather than the walls. This is what enables the cathedral to have its famous stained-glass windows. In short, the buttresses make sure that Notre-Dame Cathedral is structurally sounds and doesn’t collapse. While the other buttresses are in desperate need of repair, flying buttress #10 is especially compromised.
Estimated cost: $800,000
The Choir needs critical structural work, including strengthening and refurbishing all 37 flying buttresses that support the walls of the choir. In addition to the structural work, the Choir will have its damaged gargoyles and pinnacles replaced.
Estimated cost: $36.2 million
The sacristy that you see today was built between 1845 and 1850, and eventually completed in 1854 with its full statuary. It replaced earlier sacristies, including one demolished in 1831 when the Archbishop’s palace was ransacked. Since the 19th century, several restoration campaigns have taken place, including the roof, the pinnacles, and the finials to repair damage caused by storms, rain, and pollution. However, no major restoration efforts have been made up to now and it now requires urgent reparations. The restoration works have been organized in three parts:
- Restoring the infrastructure of the building, including the gargoyles, pinnacles, and finials
- Repairing the roof
- Restoring the statues, including the six statues of the large sacristy and the eight statues of the cloister
Estimated cost: $8.6 million
5. The Terraces
The stones used during the previous 19th century restoration were of inferior quality, compared to the originals. As a result, decades of exposure to the elements and pollution have severely eroded the terraces caused significant damaged in certain places. Restoration works will focus on repairing the terraces and fixing structural damage, using the highest quality materials possible.
Estimated cost: $14 million
You can help save Notre Dame de Paris. Donate today!