Almost as quickly as the world-famous Notre-Dame de Paris went up in flames, an overwhelming philanthropic response has followed. French President Emmanuel Macron has launched an international fundraising campaign to rebuild the state-owned structure, and hundreds of millions of euros have already been pledged by a number of donators.
"We will rebuild it. All together," wrote Macron on Twitter Monday evening, while firefighters continued to battle the blaze. "It's part of our French destiny. I commit myself: tomorrow a national subscription will be launched, and well beyond our borders."
Widely considered by historians and architects to be the finest example of French Gothic architecture, the Notre-Dame is part of the Paris, Banks of the Seine UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO says they are ready to send an emergency mission to assess the damage of the structure and preserve what they can in concert with local authorities. "We are all heartbroken," said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. "Notre-Dame represents a historically, architecturally, and spiritually, outstanding universal heritage. It is also a monument of literary heritage, a place that is unique in our collective imagination."
An investigation has been opened to uncover the cause of the fire, which engulfed the attic and scaffolding that had been erected to aid in €6 million renovation work on the central spire. The 19th century spire and two-thirds of the roof were destroyed. Sections of the stone vaulted ceiling had also given way, dumping debris onto the checkered floor of the cathedral. Much of the building's historic artifacts and architectural features had thankfully escaped harm, including the medieval rose windows, crown of thorns, the Tunic of St. Louis, and the rooftop statues of the twelve Apostles, which had been removed from their perch for renovations just days before the fire.
Early estimates peg repair costs in the hundreds of millions of euros. Both governments and private business have stepped up to the plate and committed funding to rebuild the iconic place of worship. The City of Paris has said it will contribute €50 million towards the effort, and the regional government of Île-de-France has announced it will put forth €10 million. French billionaires François-Henri Pinault and Bernard Arnault have announced €100 million and €200 million respectively. Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of French multinational oil and gas company Total, has said the company will donate €100 million. Another €200 million has been pledged by the Bettencourts, owners of L'Oréal.
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