Distraught Parisians and shocked vacationers gazed in disbelief on Monday as a monstrous inferno tore via Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral, one of many world’s best-loved monuments.
1000’s of onlookers lined bridges over the Seine and alongside the river’s embankments, held at a distance by a police cordon because the blaze engulfed the cathedral’s roof.
“I am devastated,” mentioned Elizabeth Caille, 58, who lives near the cathedral. “It is a image of Paris. It is a image of Christianity. It is a complete world that’s collapsing.”
As darkish fell over the French capital, orange flames rising via the center of the 12th century Gothic cathedral forged an eerie glow via its stained-glass home windows and towards its stone towers.
Dumbstruck observers stood rooted to the spot as the size of disaster sunk in, questioning whether or not the cathedral would survive the night time as clouds of acrid-smelling smoke rose into the sky. Some had been visibly moved.
“It’ll by no means be the identical” mentioned 30-year-old Samantha Silva, tears welling in her eyes as she defined how she would at all times take international associates visiting Paris to the cathedral.
Constructed over a century beginning across the 12 months 1160, historians think about Notre Dame to be among the many greatest examples of French Gothic cathedral structure.
Notre Dame survived being ransacked by rioting Huguenots within the 16th century, pillaging throughout the French Revolution of the 1790s and being left in a state of semi-neglect till Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which led to renewed curiosity within the cathedral and a serious restoration which started in 1844.
The cathedral continued for use as a spot for nationwide mourning in modern-day France. World leaders attended memorial companies held for former presidents Charles de Gaulle and Francois Mitterrand.
“It is horrible, it is 800 years of historical past gone up in smoke,” mentioned German vacationer Katrin Recke.
As fire-fighters raced to save lots of priceless artworks, centuries-old gargoyles and the cathedral’s northern tower, world leaders expressed sorrow and grief in messages to the French individuals.
“Notre Dame belonged to all humanity. What a tragic spectacle. What horror. I share the French nation’s disappointment,” tweeted Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Union’s government Fee.
Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wrote: “My coronary heart goes out to Paris. Notre Dame is a logo of our means as human beings to unite for a better function — to construct breathtaking areas for worship that nobody individual may have constructed on their very own.”