PARIS — There is something about architectural wonders which transcends national borders and religion. Notre Dame is one such wonder.
After seeing the more than 800-year-old cathedral engulfed in flames on television in Paris, I felt the need to see what remained of the great building, which I had visited several times before.
On television, the spire collapsed, then the turret. Neither a Catholic nor Christian myself, I prayed that at least the exquisite twin towers would survive along with the three rose windows.
Arriving on site Tuesday morning with my wife, who I am visiting in the City of Lights, I was relieved to see the twin towers intact, still standing majestically with their facade virtually untouched. One of the rose windows could still be seen, although I couldn’t be sure standing from afar whether it has been irrevocably tarnished by the heat of the fire.
The cathedral survived the French revolution, the Nazi occupation and I am sure it will be rebuilt again. Restoration may take decades but I have no doubt it will be done.
French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild it. France’s wealthiest have pledged funds towards restoration—Bernard Arnault, head of the LVMH Group which owns mega-luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, alone has donated 200 million euros.
Notre Dam is not just a symbol of France or Catholicism, but is a symbol of the human ability to create an architectural masterpiece that transcends nationality, religion and even time itself.