President Emmanuel Macron of France has announced that the Notre Dame Cathedral spire will be rebuilt as a replica of the one destroyed in the fire at the cathedral last year.
Macron’s government had previously initiated an architectural competition to submit a variety of suggestions for the restoration. Macron has also called for “an inventive reconstruction” of the cathedral with a more contemporary design.
The possibility of a new design for the spire of the historic building had been controversial. The designs proposed included a rooftop swimming pool and a greenhouse atop the 850-year-old cathedral.
Last year, the French Senate passed a bill mandating that Notre-Dame be rebuilt as it was before the fire.
Macron’s change of mind on the spire construction is due to a desire to finish the project quickly, the BBC reported. Paris is scheduled to host the Olympics in 2024, and choosing a new design for the spire would have delayed the construction.
Since the adoption of the 1905 law on separation of church and state, which formalized laïcité (a strict form of public secularism), religious buildings in France have been property of the state.
A major fire broke out in Notre Dame cathedral on the evening of April 15, 2019. The roof and the spire were destroyed. Shortly after midnight April 16, firefighters announced that the cathedral’s main structure had been preserved from collapse.
The major religious and artistic treasures of the cathedral were removed as the fire began, including a relic of the crown of thorns.
Originally built between the twelfth through fourteenth centuries, the landmark cathedral in the French capital is one of the most recognizable churches in the world, receiving more than 12 million visitors each year.
Its original spire was constructed in the 13th century, but was replaced in the 19th century due to damage.
The cathedral was undergoing some restorative work at the time the fire broke out, though it is unknown if the fire originated in the area of the work.