Clouds of grief surrounded Paris when the beloved Notre Dame caught the raging inferno at dusk of April the 15th. Notre Dame is French term for “Our Lady” which refers to Virgin Mary. As the name suggests, the sentiments of people for this medieval icon are profound. What happened to this beautiful cathedral is not just a tragic disaster for Catholics but for people across the globe who admired and respected this amazing feat of architecture and its significance. Millions of people witnessed the destruction with horror and silent prayers for its survival. The gothic edifice was built 850 years ago, the first stone was laid in 1163 but it took 200 years in addition to complete its structure. This beautiful icon has survived damages of French Revolution and the two World Wars largely unscathed and has been the French capital’s most famous landmark since. Around 13 million visitors from all over the world come every year to pray and view sacred items and to see the wonderful artwork and relics including Christ’s crown of thrones which he wore before the crucifixion.
Although there has been no loss of life in the tragedy but the damage of culture, history, art and heritage is too big to turn a blind eye to. Monuments like these are not only a source of attraction for tourists but they represent a certain era. They have the power to take one back in a particular time of history and serves a great opportunity of learning and imagination. Notre Dame represented the true cultural significance of French History. The building’s proud spire and wooden roof now lie in ruins and the interior almost entirely destroyed. The funds to restore the cathedral has topped 700 million dollars in just 24 hours and the French President Emmanuel Macron vows to make the monument stand tall again in a span of five years.
But the bottom line is, the reconstruction would just be an alteration of the rich medieval gothic architecture which it was famous for and even that is not possible in just five years time. Lastly, this is an alarming reminder for the global community and especially the third world countries to preserve heritage sites and buildings as well as maintain their classicism and own them for they are the true representation of how civilized a nation is.
The author, Shafaq Khursheed, is a researcher at PIIA.