Fire ravages Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a UNESCO World Heritage Site


(15/04/2019) ©UNESCO/Livio Garuccio

“Our hearts are broken,” Audrey Azoulay

“We are filled with emotion and our hearts are broken,” said UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay as she witnessed the devastating fire tear through the historic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris this evening. The cathedral is part of the 1991 World Heritage inscription, Paris, Banks of the Seine, which also includes bridges, quays and the banks of the Seine in the historic part of its course (between the Pont de Sully and the Pont d’Iéna) and the Ile de la Cité and the Ile St Louis.

“Notre Dame represents an architectural, cultural and religious heritage, a unique literary heritage that speaks to the whole world,” said Ms. Azoulay. The cathedral is widely regarded as the most beautiful example of French Gothic architecture, which includes innovative use of the rib vault and buttresses, colored stained glass rosettes and sculptural decorations. Construction of the church began in 1160 and continued for a century.

The Director-General also announced that a rapid assessment of the damage would take place as soon as possible. “We are already in contact with experts to assess damage, preserve what can be preserved and consider measures in the short and medium term,” she said.

The assessment would be undertaken with the authorities concerned, including national, local, site management and Church authorities to develop an appropriate plan in order to avoid further damaging the site and to recover as much as possible of the original elements. Subsequently UNESCO would accompany and support the authorities in the recovery, rehabilitation and rebuilding of the damaged heritage site based on accurate documentation based on archival material, photos, films, historic documentation, plans and drawings.