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Trusses arrive at Notre Dame, next comes ‘The Forest’

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STEFANO RELLANDINI / AFP

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J-P Mauro - published on 07/12/23

Notre Dame de Paris has had a long road to restoration after the 2019 fire, but it is getting closer to reopening every day.

The Notre Dame restoration presented a spectacle for Parisians and tourists alike on Tuesday with the delivery of the enormous wooden trusses needed to begin restoration of the roof. These great wooden beams, constructed into triangular supports, will make it possible to begin reconstructing the roof and will ultimately bear the weight of the restored spire, which is expected to rise within the next 18 months.

The oak wood needed for the reconstruction of Notre Dame was sourced from French forests, the same that supplied the wood for its original 12th-century construction. It has been a labor of love for the specialized woodworkers, who painstakingly recreated the pieces of the roof using the same methods and tools as were used during the reign of King Louis VII.

The six trusses required for the reconstruction were so large that it took two barges to deliver them all. The ships traveled up the River Seine, which runs right next to Notre Dame. A crane was required to lift the beams, measuring between 14 and 16 meters long and weighing in at an impressive 7 tons apiece, from the barges and raise them right up to the roof where workers fastened them into place.

With these pivotal supports in place, the Notre Dame restoration has reached the stage where “The Forest” may be rebuilt. This moniker describes the wooden lattice structure directly underneath the lead-lined roof of Notre Dame. It is called “The Forest” because it required hundreds of oaken beams to complete, and will require many hundreds more to restore. When standing inside “The Forest,” one is completely surrounded by French trees, in an area that is generally as quiet as the middle of a forest.

Once the roof is in place, workers will finally be able to recreate French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s iconic 1859 spire, which will look just as it did before the 2019 fire. The work on Notre Dame de Paris is currently on track to meet its scheduled reopening by Christmas of 2024.

While the restoration process has felt inordinately long, which could likely be blamed on the world pandemic slowing work down, it is important to remember that the 5 years needed to restore and reconstruct Notre Dame are nothing compared to its initial building. In the 12th century, it took over 100 years for Notre Dame to take form as the beloved French monument church.

In 2021, YouTuber Myles Zhang posted a video that used computer renderings to show a time-lapse of Notre Dame’s construction. The video even includes the changes made to the spire in the 19th century, as well as the damage wrought by the 2019 fire and the planned steps of the reconstruction effort. See the time-lapse video below to see how the work will progress.

Tags:
CatholicFranceNotre Dame
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