That’s the best and perhaps only word to describe the fire that tragically scarred the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday. The cathedral, described as “the iconic symbol of the beauty and history of Paris,” lost its spire and two-thirds of its roof before the fire could be contained.
The structure was “saved and preserved as a whole,” according to Paris Fire Chief Jean-Claude Gallet.
My wife, Jill, and I toured the cathedral during a two-day stop in Paris in October 2016. We had never been to Europe together, and took the opportunity to visit the city briefly on our way home from Switzerland. Not knowing if we’d ever return — we want to go to a lot of places as empty nesters — we decided to hit the highlights: the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame.
One of the world’s most important examples of Gothic architecture, Notre-Dame was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. It is visited by about 30,000 people a day and around 13 million people a year, according to the New York Times.
We arrived at the cathedral at twilight, about an hour before it closed to tours and walked through it with a crowd of people. No flash photography or tripods are allowed, and the dark and shadows pushed my camera to the limits.
I’m probably proudest of the shot taken behind the main cross, because I had could only take three handheld exposures at an extremely low shutter speed before we had to move on.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but extensive renovation work has been ongoing since last year. The majority of the cathedral’s 13th century medieval roof structure, known as “the forest” because it required a forest of trees to build it, was lost in the fire in addition to the spire.
To see more photos, go to my Facebook album here.