Notre Dame ‘will rise from the ashes’ - these famous buildings did
The Paris landmark is not alone in suffering a massive calamity, but, as with these notable buildings, there is hope for its future
On December 15 2003, Teatro la Fenice reopened to the public nearly eight years after the Venice opera house was destroyed by arson. The fire tore through the 18th century building, leaving only the exterior walls.
La Fenice (The Phoenix) was rebuilt “as it was, where it was” by a team of more than 200 workers at a cost €90m, and has continued to host performances in the Italian city since. It was not the first time the theatre had been destroyed by fire, either.
On Monday night, the La Fenice had a message for Notre Dame as fire crews worked hard to limit the damage of the fire that threatened the Paris cathedral’s very existence: rise from the ashes.
“We burnt twice but twice we have risen from our ashes stronger,” the account for La Fenice on Twitter wrote. “We are at your side, friends, so fear not.”
On Tuesday morning, after the flames had subsided, La Fenice wrote again. “And now that the flame is tamed, we look to the new day with renewed hope because from the ashes it rises.”
As fire crews, investigators and conservation experts in France begin to sort through the debris left by the blaze, the sentiment offered by La Fenice is one of hope, that the Paris landmark will once again open to a marvelling public.
The Venetian theatre is not alone in having resumed service after a devastating fire. The below examples are reason enough to feel positive about Notre Dame’s future.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, UK
About 6.8 million litres of water were used by 250 fire crew to extinguish the fire that engulfed Windsor Castle in 1992. It took five years and £37m to restore the building, with the focus on nine state rooms and more than 100 others damaged or ruined.
Restoration included replacing the roof of St George’s Hall, the 45m-long ceremonial chamber. Its original plaster ceiling, painted to look like wood, was replaced with a Gothic hammer beam roof using 70 English oaks.
The cost of the renovations led to the queen paying income tax, becoming the first British monarch to do so since the 1930s, and the opening of Buckingham Palace to the public, with the money raised from the cost of entry contributing to the refurbishment.
Reims Cathedral, Reims, France
If you only see one cathedral in France, it has to be Notre-Dame de Reims. Many rank the construction in the city of Reims ahead of its cousin in Paris. The building, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Notre-Dame, was all but destroyed during World War 1 after being hit by a shell. The subsequent fire torched the timber frame and melted the lead on the roof, burning everything below.
Restoration work began immediately after the war and visitors today would not know that 100 years ago 85% of the cathedral was in ruins.
St Paul’s Cathedral, London, UK
London’s cathedral famously survived the Blitz, standing tall amid the surrounding rubble, but the war years did not pass entirely without damage. It was struck by bombs on more than one occasion during World War 2, one exploding with such force that it is believed to have shifted the position of the entire dome.
But perhaps the most famous rebuilding of St Paul’s came after the cathedral was gutted by the Great Fire of London in 1666. Old St Paul’s bears no resemblance to the structure that stands today, the 13th-century designs replaced by those of Sir Christopher Wren.
The rebuild took the best part of 50 years, the new cathedral officially opened on Christmas Day in 1711.
Hampton Court, London, UK
A devastating fire swept through Hampton Court in 1986, images on television showing flames licking through the windows above the state apartments. The damage led to a programme of restoration work that lasted four years, costing £20m. In a review of a new book on the palace by Simon Thurley, Giles Worsley wrote for the Telegraph: “Hampton Court had been wounded but not destroyed and, nearly 20 years on, it is fair to say that the fire transformed it for the better.”
St Martin’s Cathedral, Utrecht, Netherlands
After being established around 630, Utrecht’s cathedral was destroyed by Normans in the 9th century, rebuilt in the 10th and then severely damaged by fire in 1253. The cathedral built in 1254 still stands today, though the central nave collapsed in a storm in 1964.
York Minster, York, UK
The images of York Minster ablaze in 1984 have similarities with those broadcast around the world on Monday evening, a red furnace glowing in the night sky.
The cathedral caught fire after being struck by a lightning bolt, the resulting flames burning through much of the roof and causing more than £2m worth of damage.
Fire crews targeted the burning timbers in the roof with water jets to bring them down and prevent the blaze spreading.
Subsequent restoration took four years and focused on the roof, stonework and stained glass that cracked from the heat.“Everything was gone,” Bob Littlewood, former superintendent of works at the minster, told the BBC. “We had to literally start from scratch.”Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, GermanyThe history of Cologne Cathedral is one of survival, having been occupied by French Revolutionary troops in 1794 and later used as a detention centre for prisons, occupants burning the nave’s wood furnishings as firewood.In World War 2 the cathedral was struck by 14 aerial bombs, but the twin spires emerged unscathed.– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)