After more than two years of cleaning and stabilization work, France’s Notre Dame Cathedral is now ready to be rebuilt.
The news was confirmed this weekend by Rebâtir Notre-Dame de Paris, the task force charged with restoring the 850-year-old Gothic structure, in a statement on Facebook. The group says it’s on track to finish the project by the spring of 2024, just in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
That was the goal laid out by French President Emmanuel Macron in the days following a devastating fire in 2019—a five-year plan that, to many who had just witnessed the disaster take place in real time, seemed ambitious, if not altogether impossible.
“We’re officially saying that the cathedral is now saved, that it’s solid on its pillars, that its walls are solid, everything is holding together,” the head of Rebâtir Notre-Dame, Jean-Louis Georgelin, told the French news outlet BFM TV. “We are determined to win this battle of 2024, to reopen our cathedral in 2024. It will be France’s honor to do so, and we will do so because we are all united on this goal.”
The now-completed first phase involved reinforcing the cathedral’s flying buttresses, protecting its gargoyles, and removing some 40,000 pieces of damaged scaffolding that had been in place for spire restoration at the time of the fire.
Georgelin explained that the interior walls and floors of the cathedral will undergo a “thorough cleaning process” in late September. Meanwhile, construction on the building, which will be outsourced by the state to private companies, is expected to begin in the next few months.
The money for these commissions will come from the roughly $950 million (€845 million) that has been pledged from private and corporate donors.
In 2020, after a year of speculation over what the redesigned cathedral would look like, Macron announced that the cathedral’s famous spire would be restored to its original state. The president had previously said that the state would hold an international architectural competition to redesign the structure, but changed his mind following a recommendation from France’s National Heritage and Architecture Commission.
Rebâtir Notre-Dame’s aim is to have the cathedral ready to host a full service on April 16, 2024.