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History in Flames

On April 15, around 6:30 p.m. Monday evening, a fire erupted in the attic of famed Parisian cathedral Notre Dame. It then quickly spread to the roof and spire, integral sections of the establishment. Major parts of the structure did not survive the blaze, among them the lead-and-wood spire, built in 1860 by Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, and the ceiling of the nave (the long main section of the building).

The Gothic-style landmark, eight hundred and fifty-six years old, began construction in the center of Paris, France, during the reign of Louis VII. The first stone of the building was laid in 1163, and the beams and exterior of the roof date from between 1220 and 1240. Through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, major restorations and additions were made. The stonework and iconic stained glass windows depict scenes from the Bible, and the three hundred and eighty-seven steps up to the famed towers take visitors past stone chimeras and gargoyles, highlights of the architectural masterpiece.

Thankfully, the main structure, including the two bell towers, have been saved, along with the trio of immense stained-glass designs known as the Rose Windows. The Crown of Thorns, considered the cathedral’s most precious relic, was rescued, as well as the Great Organ which still contained pipes from the Middle Ages.

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