People around the world watched in shock as a piece of history appeared to die before their eyes. After the smoke cleared, Parisians found through tearful eyes that much of the iconic Notre Dame cathedral survived the terrible inferno.
Much like a house, the cathedral has a ceiling, an “attic” space filled with support trusses, and a roof on top. When you step inside and look up the first thing you’ll see is the ceiling, an ornate stone vaulted structure that managed to remain intact.
Above the vaulted ceiling lies the roof support, which was composed of 800-year-old timbers cut from trees that first sprouted some time around the 9th Century.
These ancient timbers are what burned and collapsed along with the roof and spire.
Notre Dame was the last cathedral in all of France that had not lost its original timbers to fires from Revolutionary or World Wars.
The “hole” seen in the ceiling is where the spire, also known as a flèche, collapsed.
The treasured 18th century organ, which features 8,000 pipes, was spared against all odds.
“It’s miraculous,” Paris officials said after assessing the damage [translated from French]. “It is the stone slab that connects the two towers that saved the instrument: there is no roof at this point of the roof: the water sent by the firefighters has therefore sank and else, and did not fall on the organ stand.”
The choir organ was also spared, but it did suffer significant water damage. Officials believe it will take many years to fully repair the instrument.
Both bell towers survived intact. There was concern that prolonged heat from the blaze could have led to irreparable instability of the stone structure.
Sadly, nearly all of the beautiful windows melted away, but the legendary Rose Window was saved. Dating back to the 13th Century, the Rose window is an immense stained-glass window positioned over the cathedral’s three main portals.
While the fate of Notre Dame remains uncertain, French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild the historic masterpiece. More than 300 million Euros have already been raised by to help repair the iconic cathedral.
The outpouring of good will across the globe serves as a symbol of those values which Notre Dame was built: faith, hope, and charity.