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The controversial plans for Notre-Dame’s restoration

After the fire that damaged Notre Dame on April 15, 2019, the plans for its restoration were finally approved in December 2021.

A fire engulfed he roof of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, on April 15, 2019, shocking the entire world. This made a lot of people and organizations donate money to restore the cathedral, mostly because of the historical and social value it has for the Parisians.

The plans for the renovation were approved in December 2021 by France’s National Heritage and Architecture Commission put forth by the diocese of Paris.

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What are the plans for rebuilding Notre-Dame?

The plans look to create a modernization of the cathedral’s interior, which was damaged by water and debris from the fire that destroyed a big part of the ceiling. They are looking to accommodate the millions of tourists that visit Notre Dame every year but also adapt it to the masses and concerts being held there annually.

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Some of the changes include the addition of soft mood lighting that will be hung at head-level, along with light projections that will put short Bible quotes in multiple languages onto the cathedral’s walls.

The changes will also allow visitors to enter it through the central doors, instead of the side entrance people used before the fire. Another accommodation for guests is the rearranging of altars and other items to allow more space for people to move around.

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Some confessionals will be removed to create space for displays of modern and contemporary art. While there aren’t any artists confirmed, there are rumors of street artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest, painter Anselm Kiefer and painter-sculptor Louise Bourgeois potentially being involved in the project.

The roof is planned to be reconstructed exactly as it was before the fire, with the process of seeking out historic oak trees to recreate the 13th-century wooden lattice and the 19th-century spire.

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The controversy

There are some critics of the plans, saying that it will make the church into a theme park, some even comparing it to Disneyland. According to them, the plans will damage the cultural integrity of the historic building.

There was an open letter signed by 100 prominent French figures in the conservative newspaper called Le Figaro, titled “Notre-Dame de Paris: What the fire spared, the diocese wants to destroy.” It talked about how it wouldn’t respect the “liturgical space”, and how it will turn the cathedral into a place only for discovery tours.

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Nevertheless, Father Gilles Drouin, the priest in charge of interior renovations, told AFP that the renovations were not radical.

Some of the rejected options were the removal of statues from some of the chapels. And the benches continue to be in review because they’re proposing a prototype where the benches might descend into the floor when they’re not being used.

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The renovation plans come as an intention from the Church to renew the tradition with the work of living artists.

When will Notre-Dame reopen?

French President Emmanuel Macron has stated that renovations are planned to be completed for 2024 when Paris is going to host the Summer Olympics. Nevertheless, experts are saying that the restoration process could take closer to 10, 20, or even 40 years.

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