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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Notre Dame de Paris – A Chapter of European Culture and History Consumed.

‘Morning in Paris, the city awakes to the bells of Notre Dame. And it’s said to be the soul of Paris setting ablaze when they ring, the bells of Notre Dame.’

At least that was the case until last Monday.

The immortal has fallen, the magnificent has vanished, the bells of Notre Dame have ceased to ring.

It’s in front of thousands of Parisian and tourist eyes that one of the most significant symbolsofFrench and European History disappeared, swept by the flames. When I discovered the images on the news, I first thought about a painting of Turner with the blazing flames running on the black stones in a clear spring night. It was too surreal to believe.

REUTERS/ Philippe Wojazer April 15th 2019

How could the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris be destroyed in a few hours when it dominated the city for more than eight centuries? Apparently, a simple accident was enough.

If I decided to talk about the fire of Notre Dame this week, it’s because an entire chapterof French History and Culture was reduced into ashes but also because it raised a fierce debate on the future of the Cathedral.

A few hours after the fire started, Emanuel Macron announced that Notre Dame will be rebuilt. Immediately, the Pinault family, owning many luxurious brands suchas Yves Saint Laurent, decided to donate 100 million euros for the reconstruction. They were joined by many othersand influencegroups, gathering a huge sum of money amounting to billions. This sudden momentof generosity is highly criticised from manysides. First, it encounters the problem of being charitable when it comes to the reconstruction of a religious building, while important funds are not unlocked for assisting countries facing humanitarian crises or poverty. Secondly, Macron and his ministers decided to cut by 75 the half of the income taxes of people who donate for the renovation and by 66% firms’ expenses in favour of patronage, which represents a lucrative opportunity for companies to reduce tax burden.

So, what is right and what is wrong? No one can really tell; it is a matter of opinion. I do think it is important to rebuild Notre Dame. Why? Because it is centenary symbol of France and Europe, not only in regard to religion, but also architecturally speaking. Notre Dame is the final work of the symbiose between different guilds. The display of the talents of French craftsmen is what made the Cathedral so special in the eyes of the people. Besides architecture, Notre Dame represented the three powers of the French society; the Church, the politics and the people. It also influenced artists throughout history;

What would Victoire Hugo be without his Hunchback perched in the bell towers of the Cathedral?

Will we hear the bells of Notre Dame awake the streets of Paris again? Only time can tell.

Funny facts, the wooden structure of Notre Dame was called ‘The Forest’ because all the beams were made out of the wood of the forest surrounding Paris. A large part of the forest was cleared for the construction of Notre Dame and therefore let the space for the city to expand.

Charlotte is an Arts and Culture Student at FASoS and writes for the Diplomat


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