Work to shore up Notre Dame in Paris has been finished, allowing restoration to start at the cathedral two years after a fire destroyed the attic and sent its spire crashing through the vaults below.
Soon after the April 2019 blaze, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said the cathedral – which dates back to the 12th century – would be rebuilt. He later promised to reopen it to worshippers by 2024, when France hosts the Olympic Games.
The final phase of efforts to secure its structure included reinforcing the fire-damaged vaults with wooden arches, the state agency leading the work said, adding that it was on track to meet Macron’s reopening target date.
The cathedral will be restored to its previous design, including the 96-metre (315ft) spire designed by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-1800s and for which new timber has been selected.
Restoration work is expected to start during the coming months after a bidding process to select companies. Before that, a cleaning operation for the building’s interior walls and floor will start this month, the agency said in a statement.
The fire at Notre Dame caused shock in France and around the world. Tearful Parisians and stunned tourists gazed in disbelief while the inferno raged at the cathedral, which marks the centre of Paris