• Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:16 am

Notre-Dame crypt reopens with exhibition 18 months after blaze

  • Published at 07:27 pm September 7th, 2020
Notre-Dame cathedral France Paris
A tourist stands on the Petit pont-Cardinal Lustiger in front of Notre-Dame cathedral, on September 4, 2020, in Paris AFP

The exhibition consists mostly of photographs, drawings, paintings and film excerpts illustrating the world's fascination with the cathedral

The archeological crypt of Notre-Dame reopens on Wednesday with an exhibition retracing the cathedral's turbulent history nearly 18 months after it was ravaged by fire.

The April 2019 blaze toppled the spire of the cathedral and destroyed much of the roof of what is one of France's most cherished national treasures.

The crypt, situated below the square in front of the cathedral and containing the remains of fortifications and thermal baths, had to be cleaned of lead dust, an arduous job that took more than a year before visitors could be allowed back in.

The exhibition pays homage to French writer Victor Hugo and the architect Eugene Viollet-Le-Duc, the two men behind the resurrection of the cathedral in the 19th century.

Hugo's novel "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame," published in 1831, was instrumental in winning public backing for the restoration of the monument which had been left in a state of abandon and decay.

"The exhibition starts with how the cathedral looked at the time the novel was published," said Vincent Gille, a curator at the Victor Hugo museum in Paris.

"It was a frightfully forbidding and dangerous building which bore no resemblance to a radiant and shining cathedral," he said, pointing to several of Hugo's sketches as evidence.

The exhibition consists mostly of photographs, drawings, paintings and film excerpts illustrating the world's fascination with the cathedral, from the beginnings to the animated feature films of today.

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