An Ode to Notre Dame

The Notre Dame Cathedral in France caught fire on Apr. 15. France mourns the loss of the heart of the country, a beloved piece of gothic art and a symbol of the Catholic Church. (Photo by

Abby Marks, Features Editor

With a broken heart, France mourns the architectural beauty that was once the Notre Dame Cathedral, first built in the 11th century. The fire started on April 15 and raged on throughout the day, burning the cathedral’s entire roof and causing its spires to collapse. From overseas, it is hard to imagine the significance and beauty of such a structure, so here is why the fire at Notre Dame will forever be an infamous moment in history.  

This Catholic church is famous for many reasons–beyond just being the setting of the 1996 Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It has towered tall and beautiful for over 800 years, a symbol of religion and architectural innovation.  It stands elegantly on the Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine River. After becoming inspired by the building of the Basilica of Saint-Denis, the Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, sought to create a structure in the heart of Paris–soon to be known as the Notre Dame Cathedral. The process of building the actual church took about 200 years: 1163 to 1345. Notre Dame has seen both good times and bad: it was even close to being demolished until Napoleon was crowned and decided to save it.

Notre Dame is a historical site, seeing as King Henry IV was crowned there, it hosted the coronation of Napoleon and it has survived two world wars. In the simplest of words, it is a showcase of history and religion–a museum, if you will. Its architecture is perhaps the most inspiring part: the spires touching the sky, the gargoyles protecting every corner and the stained glass remaining from the 13th century. It is the inspiration for gothic architects and a proud centerpiece for France.

Since the fire that destroyed the top of Notre Dame Cathedral, many have sent their condolences to France and have also made donations to help rebuild. In fact, the collective amount of money given/raised towards its reconstruction has already reached over one billion dollars. The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, vows to make the cathedral even more beautiful in rebuilding it within the next five years.

The burning of Notre Dame Cathedral will forever be known as the day we lost a longstanding piece of art. For eight centuries it has been a beautiful symbol of religion, art and architecture. Not only France, but the entire  world, will mourn the piece of history we lost, but we will never forget the building that stood tall through pivotal moments in history. It has been the birthplace of kings, the center of inspiration and the heart of France for centuries. And it’s not stopping now.