How badly was the Notre Dame Cathedral damaged?

Notre-Dame de Paris was substantially damaged on April 15, 2019, but officials believe that a full reconstruction is possible.

While the church’s structure is mostly intact, its 300-foot spire was destroyed dramatically (this was actually the cathedral’s second spire, as its first was lost between 1786 and 1792). The building’s wood roof is completely lost, along with 13,000 oak beams dating back to the 12th century. The building likely sustained water damage during the rescue efforts, though the extent of the damage isn’t currently known (or, at least, hasn’t been publicly announced as of early June 2019).

But not all was lost. The church’s facade and twin bell towers survived, as did the three large, stained glass “rose windows,” which date back to the 13th century. Many of its most valuable relics survived, including a 13th-century tunic possibly worn by King Louis IX and the crown of thorns some believe Jesus wore at his crucifixion.

Many large paintings seemed intact but had signs of smoke damage; they will need to be repaired before they’re available for public viewing. Other recovered works will be taken to Louvre storage facilities, where they’ll be protected and restored. Officials haven’t revealed the fate of the numerous other artifacts in Notre Dame cathedral, and we probably won’t have a full estimate of the damage for several months.

The night of the disaster, French President Emmanuel Macron called for the cathedral to be rebuilt within five years, although there’s some question as to whether that will be possible. In early May, architectural experts urged Macron to reconsider that timeline.

"Let's take the time to find the right path and then, yes, set an ambitious deadline for an exemplary restoration," 1,170 experts wrote in an open letter to the President. "Let us not erase the complexity of the thought that must surround this site behind a display of efficiency."

Some French, including Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, suggested holding an architectural competition to find a new design for the next spire; however, France’s Senate passed a bill on May 27 that requires the spire to be replicated as closely as possible.

Funding the reconstruction won’t be a significant issue, as financial contributions poured in immediately after the fire, reaching about $670 million by the next night.