Historian Kenneth Clark instructed British tv viewers that he couldn’t simply outline ‘civilisation’.

‘However,’ he mentioned, turning in the direction of Notre Dame cathedral in his 1969 BBC sequence, ‘I feel I can recognise it after I see it.’

Probably the world’s most well-known church, ‘Our Woman of Paris’ is an everlasting gothic masterpiece, a spot of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics from everywhere in the world and image of French nationhood. The opportunity of its complete destruction is as inconceivable as Huge Ben tumbling into the Thames.

Standing on a small island in the course of the Seine, its two big Gothic towers, distinctive rose home windows, wealthy sculptural adornments and menacing gargoyles are on the centre of one of the vital recognisable city vistas on the planet.

Development started in 1163 on the location of an older church – and earlier than {that a} pagan temple – below the reign of Louis VII, with the inspiration stone laid by Pope Alexander III. 1000’s of labourers slaved for practically two centuries till its completion in 1345.

The interior of Notre Dame with its chandeliers illuminated. As the seat of the Archibishop of Paris the cathedral is a major site of Catholic worship

The inside of Notre Dame with its chandeliers illuminated. Because the seat of the Archibishop of Paris the cathedral is a serious web site of Catholic worship

'Appearance to Peter and John' and 'Appearance to the disciples at Emmaus', parts of 'Appearances of the Risen Christ', a chancel screen inside of Notre Dame

‘Look to Peter and John’ and ‘Look to the disciples at Emmaus’, elements of ‘Appearances of the Risen Christ’, a chancel display screen inside Notre Dame

A picture taken less than a month ago shows a scaffold during the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, in Paris

An image taken lower than a month in the past reveals a scaffold throughout the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, in Paris

The building of the cathedral began in the 12th century and the building has survived sackings and Revolution

The constructing of the cathedral started within the 12th century and the constructing has survived sackings and Revolution

The nave of the cathedral seen from inside towers above the parishioner past stained glass windows to rib vaulted ceilings

The nave of the cathedral seen from inside towers above the parishioner previous stained glass home windows to rib vaulted ceilings

A view of the middle-age stained glass rosace on the southern side of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral

A view of the middle-age stained glass rosace on the southern facet of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral

The interior of the cathedral

The spire of the cethedral

The inside of the cathedral is domed with magnificent 12th century rib vaults and the spire, changed within the 19th century, weighed 750 tonnes

The reconstruction of the spire, photographed in the 1850s. The original had to be torn down in the late eighteenth century after hundreds of years of damage

The reconstruction of the spire, photographed within the 1850s. The unique needed to be torn down within the late eighteenth century after tons of of years of injury

Utilizing progressive architectural methods to claim France’s rising standing as a European energy, its hovering vaulted ceilings, flying buttresses and doorways surmounted by a row of figures of Outdated Testomony kings have been an expression of royal grandeur.

The constructing is longer than a soccer pitch at 427ft, with its largely wood spire – which collapsed final night time – as soon as hovering 300ft into the Parisian sky.

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Certainly it’s the mode of setting up of the roof construction – fully in timber, with every beam being constituted of a single oak tree in a decent lattice – which could be the key to understanding final night time’s catastrophe. In all, 5,000 oaks have been utilized in making it.

Among the many catalogue of scenes from medieval historical past which have performed out inside its sacred confines, Henry VI of England was topped there in 1431 within the midst of the Hundred Years Conflict, the one English king to be topped monarch in each nations.

In 1558 Mary Queen of Scots married the French dauphin, Francis II, inside its partitions, and in 1572 the longer term Henry IV of France was additionally married there.

However in addition to great scenes of chivalry, the cathedral has additionally survived its share of misfortune – though, curiously, it had prevented any devastating fireplace till yesterday’s catastrophe.

In 1548, on the peak of the Reformation, rioting Protestant Huguenots broken a number of the statues, contemplating them idolatrous, and within the 1790s it suffered important desecration throughout the French Revolution.

Lots of its treasures have been looted and the so-called ‘sans-culottes’ decapitated the heads of 28 statues, considering they have been French kings, not the biblical figures they actually represented.

Notre Dame de Paris is home to the relic accepted by Catholics the world as the holy crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ on the cross

Notre Dame de Paris is residence to the relic accepted by Catholics the world because the holy crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ on the cross

A priest pictured wiping the Crown of Thorns, a relic of the passion of Christ, protected in a case and kept at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

A priest pictured wiping the Crown of Thorns, a relic of the fervour of Christ, protected in a case and saved at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Bells have been melted right down to make cannon balls and the vandalised construction was then rededicated as a temple to the weird state-sanctioned Cult of Cause, as French leaders tried to invent a brand new faith to fill the folks’s religious void.

In 1793, the Cult of Cause’s best – and most lascivious – pageant was held on the cathedral, with a brand new shrine to ‘Liberty’ changing its Christian altar and the inscription ‘To Philosophy’ being carved in stone over the cathedral’s doorways.

Throughout the identical pageant, seductive ladies wearing tricolour sashes enacted a ‘tableau vivant’, surrounding a stay mannequin dressed because the Goddess of Cause, whom thinker Thomas Carlyle sarcastically dubbed ‘the most effective [goddesses] … although her tooth have been a little bit faulty’.

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As France’s atheistic fervour abated, nonetheless, the cathedral got here for use as a meals warehouse and fell into disrepair.

Notre Dame cathedral is photographed from the top of the Jussieu University tower in Paris. Its original bone-white colour re-emerged in the 1960s after a massive cleaning and restoration project

Notre Dame cathedral is photographed from the highest of the Jussieu College tower in Paris. Its authentic bone-white color re-emerged within the 1960s after an enormous cleansing and restoration challenge

Intricate stonework at the base of the 19th century replica of the 13th century spire led to a structure made of oak

Intricate stonework on the base of the 19th century duplicate of the 13th century spire led to a construction manufactured from oak 

A view of Paris looking out beyond the famous bell towers of Notre Dame, with the Eiffel Tower in the background

A view of Paris looking past the well-known bell towers of Notre Dame, with the Eiffel Tower within the background

The 16 copper statues which decorate the roof of the Notre-Dame de Paris are removed for restoration works.

The 16 copper statues which adorn the roof of the Notre-Dame de Paris are eliminated for restoration works.

A series of cranes evacuated the statues prior to the beginning of the restoration work at the beginning of last week

A sequence of cranes evacuated the statues previous to the start of the restoration work at first of final week

By the point of Napoleon’s rise to energy, Notre Dame was at risk of complete demolition, however its significance was recognised by the politically astute Corsican. He was topped emperor there in 1804 in a ceremony presided over by Pope Pius VII.

Once more, it was allowed to fall right into a state of decay, however this time it was novelist Victor Hugo who shot the constructing again into the general public’s consciousness along with his 1831 best-seller The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. ‘Assuredly the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Paris is, to this present day, an impressive and elegant edifice,’ he wrote.

‘However noble because it has remained whereas rising outdated, one can not however remorse, can not however really feel indignant on the innumerable degradations and mutilations inflicted on the venerable pile, each by the motion of time and the hand of man, regardless alike of Charlemagne, who laid the primary stone, and Philip Augustus, who laid the final.’

Hugo’s romantic descriptions, coupled along with his observations concerning the harm it had sustained, helped to immediate a contemporary spherical of restoration to the constructing by King Louis-Philippe.

The magnificent Emmanuel, Notre Dame's largest bourdon, is the only original bell in the cathedral not destroyed during the French Revolution

The magnificent Emmanuel, Notre Dame’s largest bourdon, is the one authentic bell within the cathedral not destroyed throughout the French Revolution

In the classic 1939 movie adaptation of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame Charles Laughton played the titluar Quasimodo, pictured here on one of the bells

Within the traditional 1939 film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame Charles Laughton performed the titluar Quasimodo, pictured right here on one of many bells

Charles Laughton played the Hunchback of Notre Dame, pictured here praying on the cathedral walls

Charles Laughton performed the Hunchback of Notre Dame, pictured right here praying on the cathedral partitions

The hunchbacked bell-ringer Quasimodo stays one of the vital well-known characters in world literature, with a 1996 Disney cartoon adaptation imprinting the cathedral’s gothic majesty on to a brand new technology.

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Amazingly, it stood proud by way of each world wars and the Nazi occupation of Paris with out taking main harm. In the course of the liberation of Paris in August 1944, the cathedral suffered hits from stray bullets, with a number of the medieval glass being broken.

And it was there {that a} particular mass was held later that month to mark the tip of the occupation, attended by Common Charles De Gaulle, whose funeral service was additionally held there in 1970.

Till yesterday, Notre Dame was Paris’s most visited monument, with entry to the principle cathedral free to its 12million annual guests – double the quantity that go to the Eiffel Tower – and an lively congregation of worshippers.

Right this moment Paris, and the world, greet with horror the inestimable – and seemingly complete – lack of one of many crowning glories of western achievement.

 Notre Dame statues soared above Paris earlier than coming right down to earth as they have been lifted off the enduring cathedral simply days in the past in preparation for the restoration

Non secular statues which sat atop Notre Dame Cathedral got here down for the primary time in additional than a century as a part of a restoration of the Paris church’s towering spire. 

A statue representing St Paul is lifted by a cranein the background of one of the cathedral's famous gargoyles

A statue representing St Paul is lifted by a cranein the background of one of many cathedral’s well-known gargoyles

A 100-metre excessive crane lowered the copper statues representing the 12 apostles and 4 evangelists on to a truck.

A worker helps remove the statue representing St Andrew

A employee helps take away the statue representing St Andrew amid a forest of scaffolding on high of the cathedral

The operation gave the general public a ground-level have a look at the statues for the primary time.

The head of the statue representing St Thomas is loaded into a box for safekeeping during the extensive planned renovation

The top of the statue representing St Thomas is loaded right into a field for safekeeping throughout the intensive deliberate renovation

The figures’ common posts look over the French capital from Notre Dame’s 96-metre excessive peak.

St Andrew´s statue soars above the French capital, with Tour Montparnasse in the background (right of picture)

St Andrew´s statue soars above the French capital, with Tour Montparnasse within the background (proper of image)

The three-metre tall statues are being despatched to south-western France.

A workman accompanied the statue of St Andrew as it descends to earth, one of sixteen sculptures removed days ago

A workman accompanied the statue of St Andrew because it descends to earth, one in all sixteen sculptures eliminated days in the past

Their elimination was a part of the £5m renovation challenge on the cathedral spire and its 250 tons (226 tonnes) of lead.  

The statues were lowered from a dizzying height and all sixteen have been saved from tonight's inferno

The statues have been lowered from a dizzying peak and all sixteen have been saved from tonight’s inferno

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