Scott Derrickson (an American director who is known for his work on cinematic hits such as Doctor Strange, Poltergeist (2015), and more), has been quoted as saying, “When I went to Europe a few years ago, I felt very at home there, and I loved standing in Notre Dame and looking at all the gargoyles on the outside of that building and realizing that, as scary and frightening as they were, what I was looking at was something that was built to the glory of God.”
The Notre Dame Cathedral is located in Paris, France. Construction on this magnificent place of worship began in 1160 and was completed in 1260. Notre Dame is considered one of the most important representations of French Gothic architecture even now, 859 years later! Notre Dame is not only famous for the style of architecture but also due to the millions of visitors who want to learn about, view, and experience the monument each year.
As you can imagine, a place this old and that endures this much foot traffic needs occasional renovations. Throughout its 800+ years of history, there have always been necessary changes to ensure Notre Dame’s safety for visitors. This is a process that has to occur so Notre Dame can continue to be a sustainable piece of art and architecture.
However, on April 15th, 2019 during a routine renovation to Notre Dame, a fire broke out in the roof space. This area was surrounded by scaffolding and the fire was able to quickly make its way up to the 93m (305.118 ft) spire which later collapsed and fell through the roof.
This situation began to unfold during mass, and since it was such an unusual event the priest did not begin to evacuate until the second fire alarm sounded. Approximately an hour afterwards (around 7:10 P.M. CEST), onlookers had gathered around the site, and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, addressed the public via Twitter.
Throughout the night, various world leaders weighed in on the destruction that was taking place. During this time many people wondered if the cathedral would be able to have visitors ever again, and luckily, with the help of 3D virtual tours that no longer needs to be a concern!
Historic sites such as the Notre Dame Cathedral benefit from 3D digital preservation because it allows for beautiful works of architecture to be viewed by many different people for years to come. Different factors (lack of time, money, or both!) can prohibit people from getting the opportunity to visit monumental sites around the world such as the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, or the Great Sphinx of Giza.
3D virtual tours give users the chance to experience a myriad of destinations; it also provides a gateway for educational purposes. Some schools are not able to give their students the opportunity to visit different places to experience important cultural and historic buildings, and having access to 3D virtual tours could eliminate this issue.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame was not the only religious site to experience fire damage on April 15th, 2019. The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (the holiest place in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam) experienced a fire but received little damage, for more information on the fire in Jerusalem, click here.
Much like the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Notre Dame will continue to be a religious site for some time to come. 400 firefighters had to work throughout the night and early morning to save Notre Dame. Although the cathedral did experience significant damage (two-thirds of the roof collapsed along with the spire), donations began pouring in almost immediately to begin the expensive reconstruction.
It seems like Notre Dame will be unable to accept visitors for a while, in the meantime, CNN.com and other websites still have virtual tours available. If you’re interested in the 360 degree look inside of Notre Dame, you can view it here. Many people are certain that these previous 3D forms of preservation will be the key to restoring Notre Dame to its previous glory, and I couldn't agree more!