Devastating aftermath of Notre Dame inferno leaves world in mourning 

A catastrophic blaze at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral has left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic ‘epicentre’ this morning as French police now investigate whether or not the fire was caused by accident. 

Hundreds of heroic firefighters tackled the blaze through the night, battling to stop the landmark’s complete destruction after the iconic spire was seen crashing to the ground before horrified Parisians yesterday evening.

Meanwhile, teams raced to recover what treasures they could from the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece, which housed priceless artefacts and relics of huge religious and international significance.

The blaze, which broke out as the last crowds of tourists ended visits at around 7pm local time, was finally declared to be ‘completely under control’ nearly nine hours later.

However, it is expected to take several days to completely extinguish all remaining pockets of fire, dampen down hotspots and secure the world-famous edifice.

Attention is beginning to turn to what may have caused the landmark, part of which was being restored, to fall victim to such a disaster.

The Paris prosecutors’ office said police will carry out an investigation into ‘involuntary destruction caused by fire’, indicating authorities are currently treating the blaze as a tragic accident, and not arson or terrorism.

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A catastrophic fire at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral (shown this morning) has left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic 'epicentre' this morning as French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the treasured landmark

A catastrophic fire at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral (shown this morning) has left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic 'epicentre' this morning as French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the treasured landmark

A catastrophic fire at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral (shown this morning) has left a nation mourning the devastation of its cultural and historic ‘epicentre’ this morning as French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the treasured landmark

Firefighters continue to douse Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris with water this morning following a devastating fire that destroyed its roof last night

Firefighters continue to douse Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris with water this morning following a devastating fire that destroyed its roof last night

Firefighters continue to douse Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris with water this morning following a devastating fire that destroyed its roof last night 

Firefighters at the scene of the fire this morning. It is expected to take several days to completely extinguish all remaining pockets of fire, dampen down hotspots and secure the world-famous edifice

Firefighters at the scene of the fire this morning. It is expected to take several days to completely extinguish all remaining pockets of fire, dampen down hotspots and secure the world-famous edifice

Firefighters at the scene of the fire this morning. It is expected to take several days to completely extinguish all remaining pockets of fire, dampen down hotspots and secure the world-famous edifice

Hundreds of firefighters battled to stop the fire wreaking complete destruction of the treasured facade (pictured) after flames torched the roof, sending its spire crashing to the ground before crowds of Parisians

Hundreds of firefighters battled to stop the fire wreaking complete destruction of the treasured facade (pictured) after flames torched the roof, sending its spire crashing to the ground before crowds of Parisians

Hundreds of firefighters battled to stop the fire wreaking complete destruction of the treasured facade (pictured) after flames torched the roof, sending its spire crashing to the ground before crowds of Parisians

As darkness fell on Paris on Monday evening the ruined cathedral was illuminated by the flames still burning in the roof as firefighters battled on against the inferno

As darkness fell on Paris on Monday evening the ruined cathedral was illuminated by the flames still burning in the roof as firefighters battled on against the inferno

As darkness fell on Paris on Monday evening the ruined cathedral was illuminated by the flames still burning in the roof as firefighters battled on against the inferno

A shard of the cathedral's spire plummets through the air as it collapsed earlier after the fire burned through its foundations

A shard of the cathedral's spire plummets through the air as it collapsed earlier after the fire burned through its foundations

A shard of the cathedral’s spire plummets through the air as it collapsed earlier after the fire burned through its foundations

A view from inside the cathedral shows flames in the roof as firefighters douse it from below with hoses. A shocked firefighter looks back at the camera as the blaze is seen raging through a hole in the roof

A view from inside the cathedral shows flames in the roof as firefighters douse it from below with hoses. A shocked firefighter looks back at the camera as the blaze is seen raging through a hole in the roof

A view from inside the cathedral shows flames in the roof as firefighters douse it from below with hoses. A shocked firefighter looks back at the camera as the blaze is seen raging through a hole in the roof

A spokesperson for the cathedral told Le Monde that the entire frame of the historic cathedral's roof (pictured here before the blaze) had caught fire

A spokesperson for the cathedral told Le Monde that the entire frame of the historic cathedral's roof (pictured here before the blaze) had caught fire

A spokesperson for the cathedral told Le Monde that the entire frame of the historic cathedral’s roof (pictured here before the blaze) had caught fire

Visiting the scene on Monday night, French president Emmanuel Macron said a national subscription would be launched to rebuild the national monument.

It was reported by AFP that billionaire French fashion mogul Francois-Henri Pinault had pledged 100 million euros (£86 million) towards the effort.

The blaze broke out just before 7pm local time in a roof area undergoing around £6m of renovations. The fire service said last night they believed it was an accident, but investigations were continuing.

More than 400 firefighters battled the flames, which quickly spread along the roof structure, causing burning timbers to collapse onto the ceiling of the vault below. Some of that collapsed into the aisle however the cathedral’s Twitter account declared the damage inside was less than feared, in a message ending ‘Allelujah’.

At around 3am local time, Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said: ‘We can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved as well as the two towers.’

And a brigade spokesman added: ‘We will continue to watch over any residual pockets of fire and cool down the areas that are still red-hot, like the wooden beam framework.’

One fireman was severely injured tackling the blaze, but no fatalities were reported. The building – and the entire Ile de la Cite island it occupies in the centre of the French capital – were successfully evacuated as the seriousness of the fire became clear.

As well as the historic stricture, the cathedral was home to dozens of priceless artefacts, including the reputed Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus during his crucifixion.

A human chain of emergency service workers carried this and many other items to safety.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said: ‘Thank you to the [Paris fire brigade], policemen and the municipal agents who have made this evening a tremendous human chain to save the works of Notre Dame. The Crown of Thorns, the tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place.’

Priceless works that couldn’t be moved fared less well. Firefighters told how the building’s stained-glass rose windows, high on the north, west and south faces of the cathedral, ‘exploded’ in the heat of the inferno.

‘They exploded because of the heat of the blaze,’ said one, referring to the Rosette West, which was created in 1225, the Rosette North and the Rossette South, both from 1250.

An aerial view of the cathedral taken from a police drone showed the famous structure completely stripped of its roof and still ablaze on the inside

An aerial view of the cathedral taken from a police drone showed the famous structure completely stripped of its roof and still ablaze on the inside

An aerial view of the cathedral taken from a police drone showed the famous structure completely stripped of its roof and still ablaze on the inside

Drone footage from the French Interior Ministry showed the devastation to the cathedral's centuries-old timber roof

Drone footage from the French Interior Ministry showed the devastation to the cathedral's centuries-old timber roof

Drone footage from the French Interior Ministry showed the devastation to the cathedral’s centuries-old timber roof

Speaking with tears in his eyes on the steps of the cathedral, Macron vowed to rebuild Notre Dame with the help of the international community

Speaking with tears in his eyes on the steps of the cathedral, Macron vowed to rebuild Notre Dame with the help of the international community

Speaking with tears in his eyes on the steps of the cathedral, Macron vowed to rebuild Notre Dame with the help of the international community

Teams of firefighters from across the city were called in to try and put out the fire after it spread quickly through the cathedral on Monday evening

Teams of firefighters from across the city were called in to try and put out the fire after it spread quickly through the cathedral on Monday evening

Teams of firefighters from across the city were called in to try and put out the fire after it spread quickly through the cathedral on Monday evening

Much of the top of the structure fell victim to the inferno including the famous spire and part of the dome at the back of the church

Much of the top of the structure fell victim to the inferno including the famous spire and part of the dome at the back of the church

Much of the top of the structure fell victim to the inferno including the famous spire and part of the dome at the back of the church

The fast moving fire consumed the roof of the cathedral. This evening, President Emmanuel Macron said the whole nation was moved. "Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn," he tweeted

The fast moving fire consumed the roof of the cathedral. This evening, President Emmanuel Macron said the whole nation was moved. "Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn," he tweeted

The fast moving fire consumed the roof of the cathedral. This evening, President Emmanuel Macron said the whole nation was moved. ‘Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,’ he tweeted

Smoke continues to billow into the Paris sky this evening as firefighters try to stop the flames from spreading

Smoke continues to billow into the Paris sky this evening as firefighters try to stop the flames from spreading

Smoke continues to billow into the Paris sky this evening as firefighters try to stop the flames from spreading

Pictures from inside the centuries old church show the stone-built roof of the structure partially caved in after the huge blaze

Pictures from inside the centuries old church show the stone-built roof of the structure partially caved in after the huge blaze

Pictures from inside the centuries old church show the stone-built roof of the structure partially caved in after the huge blaze

Many of the church pews were pictured intact despite the blaze as the stone-made part of the church remained largely intact despite the wooden roof structure caving in

Many of the church pews were pictured intact despite the blaze as the stone-made part of the church remained largely intact despite the wooden roof structure caving in

Many of the church pews were pictured intact despite the blaze as the stone-made part of the church remained largely intact despite the wooden roof structure caving in

Firefighters had also struggled to take down many of the large paintings in the cathedral, administrative cleric Monsignor Patrick Chauvet said, meaning the scale of the devastation will not be known for some time.

But at the height of the inferno, many feared the entire building would be lost.

Cathedral spokesman Andre Finot said: ‘Everything is burning. The frame – which dates to the 19th century on one side and the 13th century on the other – there will be nothing left.’

And as the fire spread, President Macron Tweeted: ‘Our Lady of Paris in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thoughts go out to all Catholics and all of France. Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.’

He was joined by politicians, religious leaders and academics who lamented the losses suffered.

‘If Paris is the Eiffel Tower then France is Notre Dame. It’s the entire culture, entire history of France incarnated in this monument,’ Bernard Lecomte, a writer and specialist in religious history told French TV.

The Vatican expressed its ‘incredulity’ and ‘sadness’ over the fire and offered prayers for firefighters tackling the blaze and solidarity with the French people.

In Washington, Donald Trump tweeted: ‘So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent the best wishes of the Anglican church to people at the scene. ‘Tonight we pray for the firefighters tackling the tragic Notre Dame fire – and for everyone in France and beyond who watches and weeps for this beautiful, sacred place where millions have met with Jesus Christ,’ he said.

And British Prime Minister Theresa May added: ‘My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze.’

Firefighters were still battling to bring the blaze under control as night drew in on Paris and the roof of Notre Dame was still on fire. The stained glass window also appeared to have been destroyed by the heat of the fire

Firefighters were still battling to bring the blaze under control as night drew in on Paris and the roof of Notre Dame was still on fire. The stained glass window also appeared to have been destroyed by the heat of the fire

Firefighters were still battling to bring the blaze under control as night drew in on Paris and the roof of Notre Dame was still on fire. The stained glass window also appeared to have been destroyed by the heat of the fire

The scaffolding at the top of the church and the wooden frame of the building was said to be completely ablaze by a cathedral spokesperson

The scaffolding at the top of the church and the wooden frame of the building was said to be completely ablaze by a cathedral spokesperson

The scaffolding at the top of the church and the wooden frame of the building was said to be completely ablaze by a cathedral spokesperson

The famous spire of Notre Dame collapsed dramatically at around 7.15pm GMT after the blaze tore through the wooden structure at the top of the building

The famous spire of Notre Dame collapsed dramatically at around 7.15pm GMT after the blaze tore through the wooden structure at the top of the building

The famous spire of Notre Dame collapsed dramatically at around 7.15pm GMT after the blaze tore through the wooden structure at the top of the building

Firefighters tackle the blaze on Monday evening as flames and smoke rise from the Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris

Firefighters tackle the blaze on Monday evening as flames and smoke rise from the Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris

Firefighters tackle the blaze on Monday evening as flames and smoke rise from the Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris

As the flames died down, thoughts turned to rebuilding the monument.

In an impassioned speech outside the cathedral, President Macron said: ‘We will appeal to the greatest talents and we will rebuild Notre Dame because that’s what the French are waiting for, because that’s what our history deserves, because it’s our deepest destiny.’

Late on Monday evening French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault pledged 100 million euros (£86.2 million) towards the rebuilding the cathedral.

In a statement sent the CEO of the Kering group, which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion houses, said the money towards ‘the effort necessary to completely rebuild Notre Dame’ would be paid by the Pinault family’s investment firm Artemis.

The cathedral is one of Europe’s most-visited landmarks, and as Holy Week got underway yesterday, thousands of tourists were in the vicinity and were joined by locals who spilled open-mouthed onto the streets to watch the disaster unfolding.

Firefighters douse flames billowing from the roof as they try to stop the flames spreading. Nobody has been injured, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding: 'It's too early to determine the causes of the fire'

Firefighters douse flames billowing from the roof as they try to stop the flames spreading. Nobody has been injured, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding: 'It's too early to determine the causes of the fire'

Firefighters douse flames billowing from the roof as they try to stop the flames spreading. Nobody has been injured, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding: ‘It’s too early to determine the causes of the fire’

The burning orange of the flames can be seen through the rose petal window this evening as Parisians and tourists look on in horror as the blaze continues to spread at the cathedral

The burning orange of the flames can be seen through the rose petal window this evening as Parisians and tourists look on in horror as the blaze continues to spread at the cathedral

The burning orange of the flames can be seen through the rose petal window this evening as Parisians and tourists look on in horror as the blaze continues to spread at the cathedral

People watch in Paris this evening as the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral continues to swarm the building, as firefighters fight to contain it

People watch in Paris this evening as the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral continues to swarm the building, as firefighters fight to contain it

People watch in Paris this evening as the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral continues to swarm the building, as firefighters fight to contain it

The spire collapses while flames are burning through the roof at teh Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris today. The blaze started in the late afternoon at one of the most visited monuments in the French capital

The spire collapses while flames are burning through the roof at teh Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris today. The blaze started in the late afternoon at one of the most visited monuments in the French capital

The spire collapses while flames are burning through the roof at teh Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris today. The blaze started in the late afternoon at one of the most visited monuments in the French capital

A cordon is in place as fire crews spray water on the Gothic cathedral to try and stem the flames this evening

A cordon is in place as fire crews spray water on the Gothic cathedral to try and stem the flames this evening

A cordon is in place as fire crews spray water on the Gothic cathedral to try and stem the flames this evening

A lone firefighter on a crane uses a hose to try and extiguish the flames this evening. British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her thoughts for the people of France and emergency services battling a devastating fire this evening

A lone firefighter on a crane uses a hose to try and extiguish the flames this evening. British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her thoughts for the people of France and emergency services battling a devastating fire this evening

A lone firefighter on a crane uses a hose to try and extiguish the flames this evening. British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her thoughts for the people of France and emergency services battling a devastating fire this evening

The flames have engulfed large parts of the Cathedral, located in central Paris. A spurt of water can be seen at the bottom right of the picture as firefighters do battle with the blaze this evening. Officials in Paris said the fire could be linked to restoration works as the peak of the church is currently undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project

The flames have engulfed large parts of the Cathedral, located in central Paris. A spurt of water can be seen at the bottom right of the picture as firefighters do battle with the blaze this evening. Officials in Paris said the fire could be linked to restoration works as the peak of the church is currently undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project

The flames have engulfed large parts of the Cathedral, located in central Paris. A spurt of water can be seen at the bottom right of the picture as firefighters do battle with the blaze this evening. Officials in Paris said the fire could be linked to restoration works as the peak of the church is currently undergoing a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project

The spire seen leaning slightly over as it began to give way because of the fire ripping through its foundations and the rest of the roof

The spire seen leaning slightly over as it began to give way because of the fire ripping through its foundations and the rest of the roof

The spire seen leaning slightly over as it began to give way because of the fire ripping through its foundations and the rest of the roof

One of the turrets on the cathedral before it collapsed

One of the turrets on the cathedral before it collapsed

The turret after it collapsed

The turret after it collapsed

One of the turrets on the cathedral before it collapsed (left) at around 7.00pm this evening and afterwards at around 7.30pm

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted shortly after the fire broke out that he was sad to see 'a part of us burn' and sent his sympathies to people across France

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted shortly after the fire broke out that he was sad to see 'a part of us burn' and sent his sympathies to people across France

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted shortly after the fire broke out that he was sad to see ‘a part of us burn’ and sent his sympathies to people across France

A visibly upset Emmanual Macron walking near the Notre Dame Cathedral as it burns

A visibly upset Emmanual Macron walking near the Notre Dame Cathedral as it burns

Locals watch on helplessly as Notre Dame burns

Locals watch on helplessly as Notre Dame burns

A visibly upset Emmanual Macron walking near the Notre Dame Cathedral as it burns (left) and locals watch on helplessly (r)

‘Notre-Dame survived all the wars, all the bombardments. We never thought it could burn. I feel incredibly sad and empty,’ Stephane Seigneurie, a consultant who joined other shocked onlookers in a solemn rendition of ‘Ave Maria’ as they watched the fire from a nearby bridge.

‘Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before,’ said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s.

Jacky Lafortune, a 72-year-old artist and self-described atheist stood forlornly on the banks of the River Seine staring at the cathedral.

Comparing the mood in the French capital to the aftermath of a terror attack he said: ‘But this stirs much deeper emotions because Notre-Dame is linked to the very foundations of our culture.’

The cathedral, one the finest example of French Gothic architecture in Europe, is located at the centre of the French capital in the Middle Ages and its construction was completed in the mid-14th century after some 200 years of work.

Parisians took to the city's streets last night to pray, sing and reminisce about Notre Dame cathedral as it burned before them

Parisians took to the city's streets last night to pray, sing and reminisce about Notre Dame cathedral as it burned before them

Parisians took to the city’s streets last night to pray, sing and reminisce about Notre Dame cathedral as it burned before them

The emotions became too much for some locals who gathered in the shadow of the cathedral to watch its slow destruction

The emotions became too much for some locals who gathered in the shadow of the cathedral to watch its slow destruction

The emotions became too much for some locals who gathered in the shadow of the cathedral to watch its slow destruction

During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the cathedral was vandalised in widespread anti-Catholic violence. Its spire was dismantled, its treasures plundered and its large statues at the grand entrance doors destroyed.

It would go on to feature as a central character in a Victor Hugo novel published in 1831, ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ and shortly afterwards a restoration project lasting two decades got under way, led by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

The building survived the devastation of two global conflicts in the 20th century and famously rang its bells on August 24, 1944, the day of the Liberation of Paris from German occupation at the end of the World War II.

Before yesterday’s blaze it was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, and bronze statues had been removed last week for works.

Its 330ft-long roof, of which a large section was consumed in the first hour of the blaze, was one of the oldest such structures in Paris.

I walked through the gutted cathedral… then the crucifix shone from what remained of the altar, a symbol of defiance in the gloom: ROBERT HARDMAN is among first witnesses inside ravaged Notre Dame 

Sparks and bits of flaming woodwork are still cascading from the remnants of the 12th-century roof.

The smell instantly sears the back of your throat like a dose of smelling salts and my feet are soaked. The ancient black and white tiles leading up the aisle are under a gently-flowing river of hose water from the fire crews pumping what seems like much of the River Seine from their elevated platforms.

Yet I can faithfully report that the Cathedral of Notre Dame is not entirely destroyed. Because I am standing inside it – alongside the French prime minister.

In the early hours of this morning, I was among the first people to be allowed inside the ruins of one of the world’s finest cathedrals following the fire which has shocked not just the entire French nation but much of the planet.

A blaze which begin in the cathedral’s loft at 6.30pm had turned into an all-consuming catastrophe by nightfall. Officials reported that the wooden interior of the medieval cathedral had been almost completely destroyed.

Certainly, Notre Dame’s spire is no more. Great chunks of its eastern end are no more. Its world-famous stained glass windows are in smithereens and the whole edifice is open to the skies.

The entrance to the cathedral on Monday evening

The entrance to the cathedral on Monday evening

The unspoilt pews inside the main church building

The unspoilt pews inside the main church building

Robert Hardman was given access to the charred remains of the Notre Dame cathedral in the early hours of Tuesday morning

Smoke is seen around the alter inside Notre Dame cathedral on Monday evening. Miracolously the cross and altar have managed to survive the inferno

Smoke is seen around the alter inside Notre Dame cathedral on Monday evening. Miracolously the cross and altar have managed to survive the inferno

Smoke is seen around the alter inside Notre Dame cathedral on Monday evening. Miracolously the cross and altar have managed to survive the inferno

But Paris will wake today to see that the cathedral that has defied world wars, enemy occupations, revolutions and mobs galore is still poking its head above the Paris skyline.

And at 1am today, at the far end of the cathedral, illuminated by lingering embers and firefighters’ equipment, I could just make out a stunning symbol of defiance through the gloom: the unmistakeable sight of a crucifix on what remains of the altar.

Notre Dame is gravely damaged. Yet its most spectacular features – the 850-year-old twin towers – are still there. For centuries, these were the highest structures in Paris until the Eiffel Tower came along. To this day, they are instantly recognisable the world over. And last night, though looking very sorry for themselves, they were in one piece as I stood beneath them alongside a posse of fire crews and prime ministerial aides.

Within hours, speculation was rife as to the cause of the fire. For now, it seems that it was what one official called a ‘stray flame’ – linked to a £5 million restoration project – which sparked the inferno.

Experts have warned for years that the cathedral has been in a poor condition, with the French state reluctant to fund renovation work in recent decades.

Experts said that the building needed a £129.5million (€150million) restoration, but the state had only offered €40million.

Outside Notre Dame where cranes and firemen were still hard at work

Outside Notre Dame where cranes and firemen were still hard at work

Emergency service personnel near the entrance to the cathedral

Emergency service personnel near the entrance to the cathedral

Pictures taken outside the cathedral and from the entrance hall in the early hours of Tuesday show emergency service personnel still working to make the site safe

Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the centre of Paris. Firefighters can be seen on the left, fighting the fire

Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the centre of Paris. Firefighters can be seen on the left, fighting the fire

Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the centre of Paris. Firefighters can be seen on the left, fighting the fire

The cathedral was seeking private donations to make up the rest.

The flames were first spotted just minutes after the building had closed to the public for the day. Echoing the fears of his entire country, French president Emmanuel Macron instantly declared a national emergency. ‘Our Lady of Paris in flames,’ he declared on Twitter. ‘Like all our countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.’

He has pledged to rebuild Notre Dame, saying: ‘Notre Dame is our history, our imagination, where we’ve lived all our great moments, and is the epicentre of our lives.

‘It’s the story of our books, our paintings. It’s the cathedral for all French people, even if they have never been. But it is burning and I know this sadness will be felt by all of our citizens.

‘Tomorrow a national subscription will be launched for people around the country to help rebuild this great Notre Dame. Because that’s what the French people want. That is what their history requires. Because that is our destiny.’

Questions were immediately asked about the way in which a fire could take such a rapid hold of one of the world’s most visited – and most beloved – landmarks. The firefighting response was also questioned as few, if any, high-pressure water hoses were able to reach the roof in the first hour. Critically, the Paris prosecutor has already opened an inquiry.

I arrived last night to find a dumbstruck City of Light still bathed in a dismal afterglow. Here, on the banks of the Seine, tens of thousands of people – of all nationalities – stared incredulously at the slow death of a part of France’s soul.

The fire spread rapidly across the roof-line of the cathedral leaving one of the spires and another section of the roof engulfed in flames

The fire spread rapidly across the roof-line of the cathedral leaving one of the spires and another section of the roof engulfed in flames

The fire spread rapidly across the roof-line of the cathedral leaving one of the spires and another section of the roof engulfed in flames

To describe the cathedral of Notre Dame as a national monument is a grave understatement. Imagine Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London all going up in smoke at the same time and you begin to appreciate the magnitude of this loss, except that Notre Dame attracts – or used to attract – twice as many annual visitors as those three London landmarks put together.

That is why, as news began to spread last night, Parisians flocked to the Seine. They came here not as voyeurs but as mourners. They came to pay their last respects. Some sang hymns. Many were in tears. Some brought flowers and cards to place they knew not where. Understandably, perhaps, no one saw fit to light a candle. 

From medieval times, Notre Dame has marked the epochs in the story of this proud country and inspired one of the most famous literary masterpieces in the French language, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This August marks the 75th anniversary of the day that General Charles De Gaulle marked the liberation of Paris within its walls, even as sporadic gunfire continued outside.

This is a city which was famously spared the destruction which history has wreaked on so many other European capitals. It really did feel blessed; almost eternal. Not any more. Those twin towers are now blackened and wide open to the elements. By midnight, however, the flames had died down as the first glimmers of firemen’s torches could be seen here and there in the remains.

I joined what I can only describe as a requiem mass of Parisians chanting prayers on the Pont de Notre Dame. All approaches to the cathedral’s island site had been sealed off to the public but crowds kept on coming from all directions for a glimpse. 

‘At least the two towers are still standing, and they must stay up so that Notre Dame can be reborn,’ said civil servant Pascal Boichut, 52. There was a glimmer of hope when Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters: ‘We consider that the main structure of Notre Dame has been preserved.’

In a statement the CEO of the Kering group, which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion houses, said the money towards ‘the effort necessary to completely rebuild Notre Dame’ would be paid by the Pinault family’s investment firm Artemis.

Macron had earlier cancelled a major televised policy speech he was due to give on Monday evening to respond to months of protests, and instead headed to the scene in person.

He said while the ‘worst had been avoided’ and the facade and two towers saved, ‘the next hours will be difficult’.

Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said ‘we can consider that the main structure of Notre Dame has been saved and preserved’ as well as the two towers.

French billionaire pledges 100 million euros to help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral 

A French billionaire has pledged 100 million euros to help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral as a defiant President Macron launches a national fundraising campaign to restore the building to its former glory.

The catastrophic blaze destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old UNESCO world heritage landmark as horrified Parisians looked on – many in tears and praying – on Monday evening.

A visibly emotional Macron, spoke outside the gothic cathedral and said a national fundraising campaign to restore Notre Dame would be launched Tuesday, as he called on the world’s ‘greatest talents’ to help.

He said: ‘We will appeal to the greatest talents and we will rebuild Notre Dame because that’s what the French are waiting for, because that’s what our history deserves, because it’s our deepest destiny.’

Late on Monday evening French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault pledged 100 million euros (£86.2 million) towards the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was partly gutted by a devastating fire

Late on Monday evening French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault pledged 100 million euros (£86.2 million) towards the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was partly gutted by a devastating fire

Late on Monday evening French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault pledged 100 million euros (£86.2 million) towards the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was partly gutted by a devastating fire

French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to Hollywood actress Salma Hayek, pledged 100 million euros (£86.2 million) towards the rebuilding of the cathedral.

In a statement the CEO of the Kering group, which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion houses, said the money towards ‘the effort necessary to completely rebuild Notre Dame’ would be paid by the Pinault family’s investment firm Artemis.

Macron had earlier cancelled a major televised policy speech he was due to give on Monday evening to respond to months of protests, and instead headed to the scene in person.

He said while the ‘worst had been avoided’ and the facade and two towers saved, ‘the next hours will be difficult’.

Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said ‘we can consider that the main structure of Notre Dame has been saved and preserved’ as well as the two towers.

Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez, also present at the scene on Monday evening, said that for the first time ‘the fire had decreased in intensity’ while still urging ‘extreme caution’.

The Vatican on Monday expressed its ‘incredulity’ and ‘sadness’, expressing ‘our closeness with French Catholics and with the Parisian population.’

The cause of the blaze was not immediately confirmed. The cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which the fire service said could be linked to the blaze.

French prosecutors said it was being treated as an ‘involuntary’ fire, indicating that foul play was ruled out for now.

Parisians applaud the firefighters who formed a human chain to save Notre Dame’s priceless collection of art and relics – including the Crown Of Thorns from Jesus’ crucifixion 

Firefighters, police, and churchmen risked their lives last night to carry priceless historical artefacts and religious relics away from the flames which engulfed Notre Dame de Paris.

The Mayor of Paris tweeted her thanks to first responders for forming ‘a formidable human chain’ to save irreplaceable objects including the relic believed by Catholics to be the crown of thorns which was put on Jesus’ head as he died on the cross.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo went on: ‘The Crown of Thorns, the tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place.’

Emergency responders worked with city staff to manhandle priceless relics away from the fire

Emergency responders worked with city staff to manhandle priceless relics away from the fire

Emergency responders worked with city staff to manhandle priceless relics away from the fire

Reliquaries, statues, and artefacts including the crown of thorns were saved from the fire by 'human chain'

Reliquaries, statues, and artefacts including the crown of thorns were saved from the fire by 'human chain'

Reliquaries, statues, and artefacts including the crown of thorns were saved from the fire by ‘human chain’

And Father Fournier, Chaplain of the Paris Firefighters, told reporters he went into the burning cathedral to save the Blessed Sacrament and Crown of Thorns.

Parisians applauded and cheered fire crews as they drove through the streets in the early hours of the morning.

The church’s treasure trove of priceless artworks and religious relics include the Crown of Thorns said to have been placed on the head of Jesus before he was crucified, a piece of the True Cross on which he is said to have died and a nail from the crucifixion.

The relics were obtained from the Byzantine Empire in 1238 and brought to Paris by King Louis IX.

Notre Dame is also home to priceless paintings dating back to the 1600s, including a series known as the Petits Mays, gifted to the cathedral once a year from 1630 to 1707.

Among the most celebrated artworks are three stained-glass rose windows high up on the west, north and south faces of the cathedral.

Shortly after midnight, Paris time, the artefacts had been safely transferred to a storage room

Shortly after midnight, Paris time, the artefacts had been safely transferred to a storage room

Shortly after midnight, Paris time, the artefacts had been safely transferred to a storage room

Worries onlookers were filmed looking at the salvaged antiquities on the night the cathedral's ancient roof burned to cinders

Worries onlookers were filmed looking at the salvaged antiquities on the night the cathedral's ancient roof burned to cinders

Worries onlookers were filmed looking at the salvaged antiquities on the night the cathedral’s ancient roof burned to cinders

Notre Dame’s Great Organ, which dates back to the 13th century and was restored in the early 1990s, is considered the most famous in the world, with five keyboards and nearly 8,000 pipes.

Last night firemen at the scene said all efforts were being directed at saving artwork in the cathedral and preventing the collapse of its northern tower.

‘Everything is collapsing,’ a police officer near the scene said as the cathedral continued to burn.

The ten bells of Notre Dame are renowned across Europe and the first nine are named Marie, Gabriel, Anne-Genevieve, Denis, Marcel, Etienne, Benoit-Joseph, Maurice, and Jean-Marie.

The final and largest, known as the bourdon bell Emmanuel, weighs more than 13 tonnes. It sits in the southern tower and has been a part of the building since 1681.

In 1944, Emmanuel was rung in celebration and triumph by French troops and allies to announce to the city that it was on its way to liberation.

The famous gargoyles and chimera that adorn Notre Dame were built in the 19th century by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. The original purpose of the gargoyles was to assist with the building’s drainage, but they have become one of its most-loved features.

The crown is an interleaved ring of reeds, the thorns having been separated and displayed at churches across the medieval world

The crown is an interleaved ring of reeds, the thorns having been separated and displayed at churches across the medieval world

The crown is an interleaved ring of reeds, the thorns having been separated and displayed at churches across the medieval world

Catholics believe the relic is the 'crown' placed on Jesus' head in mockery as he was crucified

Catholics believe the relic is the 'crown' placed on Jesus' head in mockery as he was crucified

Catholics believe the relic is the ‘crown’ placed on Jesus’ head in mockery as he was crucified

A priest wipes the Crown of Thorns, a relic of the passion of Christ, at Notre Dame de Paris

A priest wipes the Crown of Thorns, a relic of the passion of Christ, at Notre Dame de Paris

A priest wipes the Crown of Thorns, a relic of the passion of Christ, at Notre Dame de Paris

In the 1790s, Notre Dame was desecrated during the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed and its treasures plundered.

The 28 statues of biblical kings located at the west facade, mistaken for statues of French kings, were beheaded.

All of the other large statues on the facade, with the exception of that of the Virgin Mary on the portal of the cloister, were destroyed.

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The cathedral was restored over 25 years after the publication of the book The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo in 1831 brought it into the spotlight.

Sixteen statues that were part of the cathedral’s destroyed spire were safe and unscathed after being removed as part of a renovation a few days ago, and that the relics had also been saved.

The green-grey statues, representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists, were apparently lowered by cranes from the site and taken away.

The cathedral also has a spectacular series of carved wooden stalls and statues representing the Passion of the Christ.

A man puts his hand to his mouth in pure shock as he watches the flames burst from the historic catherdral

A man puts his hand to his mouth in pure shock as he watches the flames burst from the historic catherdral

A man puts his hand to his mouth in pure shock as he watches the flames burst from the historic catherdral

A woman reacts with horror as she watches the collosal fire engulf the roof of the Notre Dame. The colossal fire swept through the cathedral causing a spire to collapse and threatening to destroy the entire masterpiece and its precious artworks. The fire, which began in the early evening, sent flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the Paris sky as stunned Parisians and tourists looked on in dismay

A woman reacts with horror as she watches the collosal fire engulf the roof of the Notre Dame. The colossal fire swept through the cathedral causing a spire to collapse and threatening to destroy the entire masterpiece and its precious artworks. The fire, which began in the early evening, sent flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the Paris sky as stunned Parisians and tourists looked on in dismay

A woman reacts with horror as she watches the collosal fire engulf the roof of the Notre Dame. The colossal fire swept through the cathedral causing a spire to collapse and threatening to destroy the entire masterpiece and its precious artworks. The fire, which began in the early evening, sent flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the Paris sky as stunned Parisians and tourists looked on in dismay

A woman on the phone looks on at the burning cathedral and smoke billows into the sky. The spire of Paris's famous Notre Dame cathedral has already collapsed earlier this evening

A woman on the phone looks on at the burning cathedral and smoke billows into the sky. The spire of Paris's famous Notre Dame cathedral has already collapsed earlier this evening

A woman on the phone looks on at the burning cathedral and smoke billows into the sky. The spire of Paris’s famous Notre Dame cathedral has already collapsed earlier this evening

A man holds his hands on his head in despair as the smoke billows from the cathedral this evening as firefighers desperately battle the blaze

A man holds his hands on his head in despair as the smoke billows from the cathedral this evening as firefighers desperately battle the blaze

A man holds his hands on his head in despair as the smoke billows from the cathedral this evening as firefighers desperately battle the blaze

People kneel on the pavement as they pray outside watching the flames engulf Notre Dame Cathedral this evening

People kneel on the pavement as they pray outside watching the flames engulf Notre Dame Cathedral this evening

People kneel on the pavement as they pray outside watching the flames engulf Notre Dame Cathedral this evening

A woman with tears in her eyes clasps her hands in front of her as she watches the flames spread over the cathedral, and a man puts his head in his hands in despair

A woman with tears in her eyes clasps her hands in front of her as she watches the flames spread over the cathedral, and a man puts his head in his hands in despair

A woman with tears in her eyes clasps her hands in front of her as she watches the flames spread over the cathedral, and a man puts his head in his hands in despair

Parisians and toursits look on in utter shock as the flames engulf the historic cathedral, which is visited by millions every year

Parisians and toursits look on in utter shock as the flames engulf the historic cathedral, which is visited by millions every year

Parisians and toursits look on in utter shock as the flames engulf the historic cathedral, which is visited by millions every year

A woman reacts with shock as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this evening

A woman reacts with shock as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this evening

A woman reacts with shock as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this evening

Firefighters using hoses from all four sides of Notre Dame to try and douse the flames which tore through the building at a startling pace

Firefighters using hoses from all four sides of Notre Dame to try and douse the flames which tore through the building at a startling pace

Firefighters using hoses from all four sides of Notre Dame to try and douse the flames which tore through the building at a startling pace

Firefighters look on at the fire fire at the landmark Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris as they cross a bridge over the river Seine

Firefighters look on at the fire fire at the landmark Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris as they cross a bridge over the river Seine

Firefighters look on at the fire fire at the landmark Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris as they cross a bridge over the river Seine

Parisians gather on the River Seine this evening to look at the flames spreading throughout the cathedral. The blaze started in the late afternoon

Parisians gather on the River Seine this evening to look at the flames spreading throughout the cathedral. The blaze started in the late afternoon

Parisians gather on the River Seine this evening to look at the flames spreading throughout the cathedral. The blaze started in the late afternoon

Crowds look at the flames as they engulf the building on Monday evening.  Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit invited priests across France to ring church bells in a call for prayers for the beloved Paris cathedral

Crowds look at the flames as they engulf the building on Monday evening.  Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit invited priests across France to ring church bells in a call for prayers for the beloved Paris cathedral

Crowds look at the flames as they engulf the building on Monday evening.  Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit invited priests across France to ring church bells in a call for prayers for the beloved Paris cathedral

French fire crews check the hoses in the streets of Paris on Monday evening. As the cathedral continued to burn, Parisians gathered to pray and sing hymns outside the church of Saint Julien Les Pauvres across the river from Notre Dame, as the flames lit the sky behind them

French fire crews check the hoses in the streets of Paris on Monday evening. As the cathedral continued to burn, Parisians gathered to pray and sing hymns outside the church of Saint Julien Les Pauvres across the river from Notre Dame, as the flames lit the sky behind them

French fire crews check the hoses in the streets of Paris on Monday evening. As the cathedral continued to burn, Parisians gathered to pray and sing hymns outside the church of Saint Julien Les Pauvres across the river from Notre Dame, as the flames lit the sky behind them

People sit and look in disbelief as the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral burns on Monday afternoon and into the evening

People sit and look in disbelief as the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral burns on Monday afternoon and into the evening

People sit and look in disbelief as the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral burns on Monday afternoon and into the evening

Sparks fill the Paris air on Monday evening as fire crews spray water to try and stop the blaze. The Louvre Museum has described the fire as 'a tragedy for World Heritage'. A comment on the art museum's official Twitter account said: 'The fire which has struck Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a tragedy for World Heritage. 'The Louvre expresses its deepest admiration and solidarity with those who are currently battling the flames'

Sparks fill the Paris air on Monday evening as fire crews spray water to try and stop the blaze. The Louvre Museum has described the fire as 'a tragedy for World Heritage'. A comment on the art museum's official Twitter account said: 'The fire which has struck Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a tragedy for World Heritage. 'The Louvre expresses its deepest admiration and solidarity with those who are currently battling the flames'

Sparks fill the Paris air on Monday evening as fire crews spray water to try and stop the blaze. The Louvre Museum has described the fire as ‘a tragedy for World Heritage’. A comment on the art museum’s official Twitter account said: ‘The fire which has struck Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a tragedy for World Heritage. ‘The Louvre expresses its deepest admiration and solidarity with those who are currently battling the flames’

The flames and smoke engulf the historic gothic building on Monday afternoon. Parisians prayed and cried as they watched it burn

The flames and smoke engulf the historic gothic building on Monday afternoon. Parisians prayed and cried as they watched it burn

The flames and smoke engulf the historic gothic building on Monday afternoon. Parisians prayed and cried as they watched it burn

French fire crew gather on the parvis in front door of the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday evening as flames are burning its roof in Paris

French fire crew gather on the parvis in front door of the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday evening as flames are burning its roof in Paris

French fire crew gather on the parvis in front door of the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday evening as flames are burning its roof in Paris

Officials say the blaze could be linked to renovation works as the spire has been undergoing a $6.8million renovation this year

Officials say the blaze could be linked to renovation works as the spire has been undergoing a $6.8million renovation this year

Officials say the blaze could be linked to renovation works as the spire has been undergoing a $6.8million renovation this year

The fire on Monday

The fire on Monday

The fire could be seen from miles around

The fire could be seen from miles around

The blaze could be seen from across Paris on Monday night as officials in the city said a major operation was in place to put it out

Earlier on Monday evening small amounts of smoke were spotted above the landmark as the fire took hold

Earlier on Monday evening small amounts of smoke were spotted above the landmark as the fire took hold

Earlier on Monday evening small amounts of smoke were spotted above the landmark as the fire took hold

Enormous plumes of smoke were seen rising from the Cathedral as horrified onlookers gathered in a nearby square

Enormous plumes of smoke were seen rising from the Cathedral as horrified onlookers gathered in a nearby square

Earlier on Monday evening small amounts of smoke were spotted above the landmark as the fire took hold

Pictures from across Paris showed the historic cathedral ablaze on Friday evening after the fire reportedly broke out in the building's attic

Pictures from across Paris showed the historic cathedral ablaze on Friday evening after the fire reportedly broke out in the building's attic

Earlier on Monday evening small amounts of smoke were spotted above the landmark as the fire took hold

Our Lady of Paris: The 850-year-old cathedral that survived being sacked in the Revolution to become Europe’s most-visited historical monument

Intrigued by tales of Quasimodo, fascinated by the gargoyles, or on a pilgrimage to see the Crown of Thorns said to have rested on Jesus’ head on the Cross, more than 13 million people each year flock to see Europe’s most popular historic monument.

The 12th century Catholic cathedral is a masterpiece of French Gothic design, with a cavernous vaulted ceiling and some of the largest rose windows on the continent.

It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Paris and its 69m-tall towers were the tallest structures in Paris until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

It survived a partial sacking by 16th century zealots and the destruction of many of its treasures during the atheist French Revolution but remains one of the greatest churches in the world and was the scene of Emperor Napoleon’s coronation in 1804. 

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 side of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral

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

The foundation stone was laid in front of Pope Alexander III in 1163, with building work on the initial structure completed in 1260. 

The roof of the nave was constructed with a new technology: the rib vault. The roof of the nave was supported by crossed ribs which divided each vault into compartments, and the use of four-part rather than six-part rib vaults meant the roofs were stronger and could be higher.

After the original structure was completed in the mid 13th century – following the consecration of the High altar in 1182 – flying  buttresses had been invented, and were added to spread the weight of the mighty vault.

The original spire was constructed in the 13th century, probably between 1220 and 1230. It was battered, weakened and bent by the wind over five centuries, and finally was removed in 1786. 

During a 19th century restoration, following desecration during the Revolution, it was recreated with a new version of oak covered with lead. The entire spire weighed 750 tons. 

At the summit of the spire were held three relics; a tiny piece of the Crown of Thorns, located in the treasury of the Cathedral; and relics of Denis and Saint Genevieve, patron saints of Paris. They were placed there in 1935 by the Archibishop Verdier, to protect the congregation from lightning or other harm.

The Crown of Thorns was one of the great relics of medieval Christianity. It was acquired by Louis IX, king of France, in Constantinople in AD 1239 for the price of 135,000 livres – nearly half the annual expenditure of France. 

The elaborate reliquary in which just one of the thorns is housed sits in the Cathedral having been moved from the Saint-Chappelle church in Paris. The thorn is mounted on a large sapphire in the centre.

The crown itself is also held in the cathedral, and is usually on view to the public on Good Friday – which comes at the end of this week.

Notre-Dame de Paris is home to the relic accepted by Catholics the world over cathedral. The holy crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ during the Passion

Notre-Dame de Paris is home to the relic accepted by Catholics the world over cathedral. The holy crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ during the Passion

Notre-Dame de Paris is home to the relic accepted by Catholics the world over cathedral. The holy crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ during the Passion

During the 1790s with the country in the grip of atheist Revolution the cathedral was desecrated and much of its religious iconography destroyed. It was rededicated to the Cult of Reason and 28 statues of biblical kings – wrongly believed to by French monarchs – were beheaded. Even the great bells were nearly melted down.

Napoleon returned the cathedral to the Catholic Church and was crowned Emperor there in 1804, but by the middle of the 19th century much of the iconic building.

It wasn’t until the publication of Victor Hugo’s novel – The Hunchback of Notre Dame – in 1831 that public interest in the building resurfaced and repair works began. 

A major restoration project was launched in 1845 and took 25 years to be completed. 

Architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc won the commission. 

By 1944 the cathedral was to be damaged again and during the liberation of Paris, stray bullets caused minor damage to the medieval stained glass. 

This would be updated with modern designs. 

In 1963 France’s Culture Minister, André Malraux, ordered the cleaning of the facade of the cathedral, where 800 years worth of soot and grime were removed. 

Notre Dame has a crypt, called the Crypte archéologique de l’île de la Cité, where old architectural ruins are stored. They span from the times of the earliest settlement in Paris to present day. 

The cathedral has 10 bells, the heaviest bell – known as the boudon and weighing 13 tonnes – is called Emmanuel and has been rung to mark many historical events throughout time. 

At the end of the First and Second World Wars the bell was rung to mark the end of the conflicts. 

It is also rung to signify poignant events such as French heads of state dying or following horrific events such as the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001.  

The three stained glass rose windows are the most famous features of the cathedral. They were created in the Gothic style between 1225 and 1270. 

While most of the original glass is long gone, some remains in the south rose which dates back to the last quarter of the 12th century. 

The rest of the windows were restored in the 18th century. 

The south rose is made up of 94 medallions which are arranged in four concentric circles. 

They portray scenes from the life of Christ and those who knew him – with the inner circle showing the 12 apostles in it 12 medallions. 

During the French Revolution rioters set fire to the residence of the archbishop, which was around the side of the cathedral, and the south rose was damaged. 

One of the cathedral’s first organs was built in 1403 by Friedrich Schambantz but was replaced in the 18th century before being remade using the pipe work from former instruments.

The Cathedral is also home to a Catholic relic said to be a single thorn from the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the cross.

 

‘It’s burning to the ground’: Trump tweets about massive fire as Notre Dame goes up in flames and suggests use of airborne water tankers – then questions the renovation work at the iconic cathedral

President Donald Trump tweeted about the massive fire engulfing Notre Dame Monday, suggesting the use of flying water tankers to douse the flames – then appeared to criticize renovation work that may have caused it.

Trump tweeted from aboard Air Force One en route to Minnesota, while viewers around the world were watching the iconic cathedral’s in flames.

‘So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!’ Trump wrote while en route to Minnesota for an event about taxes.

Later, at his Tax Day event, Trump told a crowd about the ‘terrible, terrible fire.’

‘The fire that they’re having at the Notre Dame Cathedral is something like few people have witnessed,’ the president said.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the fire at Notre Dame Monday

The president suggested the use of airborne tankers

The president suggested the use of airborne tankers

The president suggested the use of airborne tankers

‘When we left the plane, it was burning at a level that you rarely see a fire burn. It’s one of the great treasures of the world,’ Trump continued.

‘It’s one of the great treasures in the world. The greatest artists in the world. Probably if you think about it … it might be greater almost than any museum in the world and it’s burning very badly. Looks like It’s burning to the ground,’ the president added, as firefighters struggled to contain the blaze.

Trump said he had a ‘communication’ with France but did not specify if he spoke to French authorities.

‘That puts a damper on what we’re about to say to be honest,’ Trump told his audience in Minnesota. ‘Because that is beyond countries. That’s beyond anything. That’s a part of our growing up it’s a part of our culture, it’s a part of our lives. That’s a truly great cathedral. And I’ve been there and I’ve seen it … There’s probably no cathedral in the world like it,’ Trump said.

‘They think it was caused by renovation. And I hope that’s the reason,’ Trump continued. Renovation. What’s that all about?’ Trump said. Then he called it a ‘terrible sight to behold.’

‘With that being said, I want to tell you that a lot of progress has been made by our country in the last two and a half years, ‘ Trump said, segueing into his tax event. ‘Hard to believe we’re already starting to think about our next election.’

Great buildings ravaged by fire: From Windsor Castle to York Minster

The Windsor Castle fire of November 1992 

A fire broke out at Windsor Castle on November 20, 1992, which caused extensive damage to the royal residence.

The Berkshire blaze started at 11am in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel after a faulty spotlight ignited a curtain next to the altar.

Within minutes the blaze had spread to St George’s Hall next door, and the fire would go on to destroy 115 rooms, including nine State Rooms.

Three hours after the blaze was first spotted 225 firemen from seven counties were battling the fire, using 36 pumps to discharge 1.5million gallons of water at the inferno’s peak.

The fire break at the other end of St George’s Hall remained unbreached, so the Royal Library was fortunately left undamaged.

A fire broke out at Windsor Castle on November 20, 1992, which caused extensive damage to the royal residence

A fire broke out at Windsor Castle on November 20, 1992, which caused extensive damage to the royal residence

A fire broke out at Windsor Castle on November 20, 1992, which caused extensive damage to the royal residence

Staff worked to remove works of art from the Royal Collection from the path of the fire.

According to the Royal Collection Trust: ‘The Castle’s Quadrangle was full of some of the finest examples of French 18th-century furniture, paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens and Gainsborough, Sèvres porcelain and other treasures of the Collection.

‘Amazingly, only two works of art were lost in the fire – a rosewood sideboard and a very large painting by Sir William Beechey that couldn’t be taken down from the wall in time. Luckily works of art had already been removed from many rooms in advance of rewiring work.’

The Duke of York had said he he heard the fire alarm and roughly two or three minutes later he saw the smoke after leaving the room he was in, according to contemporary reports.

Prince Andrew had joined a group removing valuable works of art from the castle to save them from destruction.

The York Minster fire of 1984 

Pictured: Aftermath of the York Minster fire of July 9, 1984

Pictured: Aftermath of the York Minster fire of July 9, 1984

Pictured: Aftermath of the York Minster fire of July 9, 1984

Early in the morning of July 9, 1984, York Minster’s south transept was set ablaze, destroying the roof and causing £2.25million worth of damage.

More than 100 firefighters confronted the church fire, taking two hours to bring it to heel.

The cause of the fire is believed to have been a lightning bolt that struck the cathedral shortly after midnight. 

The blaze seriously damaged the cathedral’s stonework, along with its famous Rose Window, and firefighters were left tackling embers on the floor after the roof collapsed at 4am.

Minster staff and clergy busied themselves saving as many artefacts as possible before the fire was finally brought under control at around 5.24am. 

An investigation ruled out an electrical or gas fault, and arson was discounted due to roof’s inaccessibility. Tests had found that the blaze was ‘almost certainly’ caused by a lightning strike but much of the evidence was destroyed in the fire.

The building was restored in 1988 after masonry teams re-carved stonework above the building’s rose window and arches.

It was reported that the rose window, designed to celebrate the marriage of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, reached a temperature of 842F during the incident, cracking the glass in several places before it was restored. 

It was not the first time the building had caught ablaze.

In the early hours of February 1, 1829, Jonathan Martin set the building on fire, melting the lead from the roof and cracking the building’s limestone pillars.

Late that afternoon the fire started dying out after roughly 230 feet of choir roof had collapsed.

Non-conformist Martin, a former sailor from Northumberland, did not believe in formal liturgy, had published pamphlets condemning the clergy as ‘vipers of Hell’.

He was charged with setting the building on fire, but was found not guilty due to insanity, and died in a London asylum in 1838.

Pictured: The roof of the South Transept of York Minster ablaze at the height of the fire. Minster staff and clergy busied themselves saving as many artefacts as possible before the fire was finally brought under control at around 5.24am

Pictured: The roof of the South Transept of York Minster ablaze at the height of the fire. Minster staff and clergy busied themselves saving as many artefacts as possible before the fire was finally brought under control at around 5.24am

Pictured: The roof of the South Transept of York Minster ablaze at the height of the fire. Minster staff and clergy busied themselves saving as many artefacts as possible before the fire was finally brought under control at around 5.24am

The Great Fire of London 

St Paul’s Cathedral (pictured now) caught fire, with the lead roof melting and pouring into the street 'like a river' as the building collapsed

St Paul’s Cathedral (pictured now) caught fire, with the lead roof melting and pouring into the street 'like a river' as the building collapsed

St Paul’s Cathedral (pictured now) caught fire, with the lead roof melting and pouring into the street ‘like a river’ as the building collapsed

On September 2, 1666, a fire broke out Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane, close to London Bridge. The summer of 1666 had been unusually hot, and the city had not seen rain for several weeks, leaving wooden houses and buildings tinder dry.

Once the fire had taken hold, 300 houses quickly collapsed and strong east winds fanned the flames from house to house, sweeping the blaze through London’s winding narrow lanes, with houses positioned close together.

In an attempt to flee the fire by boat, Londoners poured down to the River Thames and the city was overtaken by chaos.

There was no fire brigade in London at the time, so residents themselves had to fight the fire with the help of local soldiers.

They used buckets of water, water squirts and fire hooks, pulling down houses with hooks to make gaps or ‘fire breaks’, but the wind helped fan the fire across the created gaps.

King Charles II had ordered that houses in the path of the fire should be pulled down – but the fire outstripped the hooked poles that were used to try and achieve this.

By September 4 half of London had been overtaken by the blaze, and King Charles himself joined firefighters, handing them buckets of water in a desperate attempt to bring the blaze under control.

Gunpowder was deployed to blow up houses that lay in the path’s fire, but the sound of explosions triggered rumours of a French invasion, heightening the city’s panic.

St Paul’s Cathedral caught fire, with the lead roof melting and pouring into the street ‘like a river’ as the cathedral collapsed.

The fire was eventually brought under control and extinguished by September 6, leaving just one fifth of London untouched.

Almost every civic building had been destroyed, along with 13,000 private homes, 87 parish churches, The Royal Exchange, and Guildhall.

Roughly 350,000 people lived in London just before the Great Fire, making the city one of the largest in Europe.

A monument was erected in Pudding Lane, where the blaze broke out.

By September 4 half of London had been overtaken by the blaze, and King Charles himself joined firefighters, handing them buckets of water in a desperate attempt to bring the blaze under control (pictured: An illustration from 1834)

By September 4 half of London had been overtaken by the blaze, and King Charles himself joined firefighters, handing them buckets of water in a desperate attempt to bring the blaze under control (pictured: An illustration from 1834)

By September 4 half of London had been overtaken by the blaze, and King Charles himself joined firefighters, handing them buckets of water in a desperate attempt to bring the blaze under control (pictured: An illustration from 1834)

The Great Fire of Rome , 64AD

The Great Fire of Rome, during the reign of Emperor Nero in 64AD, destroyed much of the city after the blaze began in the slums south of the aristocratic Palatine Hill.

Strong winds fanned the fire north, scorching homes in its path, causing widespread panic during the inferno’s three-day duration.

Hundreds died in the conflagration, and thousands were left homeless. Three of the 14 districts were completely destroyed, and only four remained completely untouched.

That Emperor Nero ‘fiddled while the city burned’ has become popular legend, but is not accurate. The Emperor was 35 miles away in Antium when the fire broke out and allowed his palace to be used as a shelter. And the fiddle had not yet been invented.

Nero, who used the fire as an opportunity to rebuild the city in a more Greek style, blamed Christians for the fire, ordering the arrest, torture and execution of hundreds of the religion’s faithful.

Historian Tacitus said the fire was ‘graver and more terrible than any other which had befallen this city.’

‘Art and history destroyed before our eyes’: Witnesses share their horror as the Notre Dame Cathedral is engulfed in flames

Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, leaving the city, France, and the international community distraught. 

Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

While a huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area, Parisians and tourists watched on, as others took to social media to express their sorrow.

‘Centuries of art and history destroyed before our eyes. This building has stood since the Middle Ages. This is absolutely devastating,’ one Twitter user wrote.

Later in the evening, those in the city gathered together to say prayers and sing hymns in front of the nearby Saint Julien Les Pauvres church as the massive blaze continued only a few hundred meters away.

Onlookers stand on a bridge as the stare in shock at the smoke and flames rising through the landmark in Paris

Onlookers stand on a bridge as the stare in shock at the smoke and flames rising through the landmark in Paris

Onlookers stand on a bridge as the stare in shock at the smoke and flames rising through the landmark in Paris

Many were quietly singing an Ave Maria in Latin, including Stephane Seigneurie, 52, who said he has lived in Paris for the past 25 years.

‘I come often, and go in even where there’s no mass because it’s an extraordinary place, entwined in the history of France,’ he said. ‘Politically, intellectually and spiritually, it’s a symbol of France.’

Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit has invited priests across France to ring the bells of their churches in a call for prayers for Notre Dame.

‘Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before,’ said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s, who had biked over to the scene after being alerted of the fire by a friend.

‘I’m a Parisian, my father was a Parisian, my grandfather as well – this was something we brought our sons to see,’ he said. ‘I won’t be showing this to my son.’ 

‘It’s a tragedy,’ he added. ‘If you pray, now is the time to pray.’ 

‘Basically the whole rooftop is gone. I see no hope for the building,’ said witness Jacek Poltorak, watching the fire from a fifth-floor balcony two blocks from the southern facade of the cathedral, one of France’s most visited places.  

People sit and watch as the flames blaze through the landmark building in Paris, France

People sit and watch as the flames blaze through the landmark building in Paris, France

People sit and watch as the flames blaze through the landmark building in Paris, France

A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

A woman reacts as she watches the flames engulf the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

A woman talks on the phone and begins to cry as she watches the flames rip through the roof

‘Notre Dame is perhaps one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever set foot in, and watching it burn down is absolutely soul crushing,’ read one Twitter post. 

‘Terrible seeing the Notre Dame in flames. Art and history turned to ashes. So glad no one has been hurt. Paris we are with you and will be there to see it restored. Shocking news,’ another social media user said. 

Others described the tragedy of never being able to see the Notre Dame as it was before the blaze.

‘Sad I’ll never get to see Notre Dame,’ one Twitter user wrote. ‘It’s on my bucket list and now one of the historic landmarks is just gone! Thoughts go out to France’. 

‘It’s finished, we’ll never be able to see it again,’ said Jerome Fautrey, a 37-year-old who had come to watch. 

Buildings around were evacuated and nobody was injured, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding: ‘It’s too early to determine the causes of the fire.’ 

France 2 television reported that police were treating it as an accident. 

‘Everything is collapsing,’ a police officer near the scene said as the entire roof of the cathedral continued to burn.   

‘Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,’ President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. 

‘There are a lot of art works inside…it’s a real tragedy,’ Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said at the scene.  

Crowds of stunned Parisians and tourists - some crying, others offering prayers - watched in horror in central Paris on Monday night as firefighters struggled for hours to extinguish the flames engulfing the Notre Dame Cathedral

Crowds of stunned Parisians and tourists - some crying, others offering prayers - watched in horror in central Paris on Monday night as firefighters struggled for hours to extinguish the flames engulfing the Notre Dame Cathedral

Crowds of stunned Parisians and tourists – some crying, others offering prayers – watched in horror in central Paris on Monday night as firefighters struggled for hours to extinguish the flames engulfing the Notre Dame Cathedral

Questions for Paris fire brigade as Notre Dame inferno burns out of control for hours

Authorities have revealed they are unable to drop water on to Notre Dame to tame the blaze for fear it will ruin what is left of the 850-year-old cathedral as well as injuring people nearby.

The tactic was suggested by US President Donald Trump on Twitter but it hasn’t been deployed because of the risks it could pose not only to the historic building but to any people nearby.

The French Interior Ministry tweeted to say that 400 firefighters have been mobilised to help tackle the blaze that is engulfing the cathedral.

The French Interior Ministry has tweeted to say 400 firefighters have been mobilised to help tackle the blaze

The French Interior Ministry has tweeted to say 400 firefighters have been mobilised to help tackle the blaze

The French Interior Ministry has tweeted to say 400 firefighters have been mobilised to help tackle the blaze

In cases of intense fires, a water bomber jet – called a Canadair – can be deployed to drop large amounts of water.

Hundreds of comments have flooded in on the Pompiers du Paris Twitter page in support of the brave firefighters risking their lives to save Notre Dame.

French news site Le Monde, explains: ‘A Canadair projects about six tonnes of water at high speed to the ground.

‘The danger is significant of hurting one or more people around the building – which is why Canadair interventions are so infrequent in urban and peri-urban areas.

‘Such an intervention could also significantly destroy the little remaining structure of the cathedral.’

The French Interior Ministry have mobilised 400 firefighters to help tackle the blazing inferno which has been burning for

If an accident happens while a Canadair is being used, the pilot may also face criminal charges.

Canadairs were used earlier this year in March when France experienced intense wildfires near Valdeblore in the Alpes-Maritimes.

They were also used in 2017 when France experienced intense wildfires that forced 10,000 people to evacuate their homes and campsites overnight.

The French Interior Ministry has mobilised 400 firefighters to help tackle the inferno that has been burning for hours

The French Interior Ministry has mobilised 400 firefighters to help tackle the inferno that has been burning for hours

The French Interior Ministry has mobilised 400 firefighters to help tackle the inferno that has been burning for hours 

French news site Le Monde, explains: 'A Canadair projects about six tonnes of water at high speed to the ground'. Stock picture of a Canadair

French news site Le Monde, explains: 'A Canadair projects about six tonnes of water at high speed to the ground'. Stock picture of a Canadair

French news site Le Monde, explains: ‘A Canadair projects about six tonnes of water at high speed to the ground’. Stock picture of a Canadair 

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