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Notre-Dame de Paris, 1880

Valeria Carullo

Notre-Dame cathedral, photographed after its restoration in the mid 19th century, and as remained until April 2019's fire

RIBA Collections 1880
RIBA Collections 1880

Like many major European monuments that have survived the centuries, the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris has been reborn many times. Built from 1163 onwards, it was expanded in its current Gothic forms over the course of two centuries, with its majestic west front completed in the 13th century, and became a point of reference for churches all over Europe. Remaining relatively unchanged until the reign of Louis XIV, the cathedral suffered many considerable alterations due to changes in architectural taste and was then substantially damaged during the French Revolution. Thanks to a renewed ­interest in Gothic architecture in the mid-19th century, a restoration campaign was started in 1841, led by ­Eugène ­Viollet-le-Duc and Jean-Baptiste Lassus. This work ­resulted in significant reconstruction of parts of the cathedral, according to the practice adopted by restorers of the time. Being restored again to different standards at the beginning of the 21st century, Notre-Dame has just managed to survive another potentially catastrophic event – the fire of April 2019 – and will be renovated once again for the benefit not only of the French nation, but of us all.