As hundreds of firefighters battled the inferno that tore through Paris’ famed Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday, French officials worried aloud whether the Roman Catholic icon and the priceless artifacts stored within could survive the blaze.
Parisians — and people the world over — breathed a sigh of relief when French President Emmanuel Macron later revealed that the “worst has been avoided” and much of the main structure of the cathedral, parts of which date back to the 12th century, had been saved.
Though the full extent of the damage has yet to be ascertained, here’s what we know so far of what burned — and what was spared or salvaged — in the Notre Dame fire.
The main structure of the cathedral was “saved and preserved as a whole,” reported The New York Times, quoting the Paris fire chief, Jean-Claude Gallet. He added that the building’s twin bell towers had been spared despite earlier concerns that the north tower would be overcome by flames.
Notre Dame’s intricate stonework facade also appears to have survived, as did at least some sculptures and other structures inside the cathedral’s nave and high altar.
Photos from inside the building, taken in the fire’s immediate aftermath, show a cross and sculptor Nicolas Coustou’s Descent From The Cross, or Pietà, still standing ― though it remains unclear whether either was damaged:
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter that first responders created a “human chain” to save artworks and religious artifacts from inside the burning cathedral.
Hidalgo confirmed that the Crown of Thorns and the Tunic of Saint Louis, among Notre Dame’s most precious relics, had been saved.
According to CNBC, 16 religious statues were removed last week from the cathedral ― for the first time in over a century ― for cleaning, thus sparing them from potential damage.
Bernard Fonquernie, an architect who oversaw Notre Dame’s restoration in the 1980s and 1990s, told the Times he believed most of the cathedral’s furnishings and famed stained glass could be salvaged.
“The stone vaulting acted like a firewall and it kept the worst heat away,” he said.
French journalist Laurent Valdiguié said on Twitter that at least one of the cathedral’s stained glass windows appeared to be undamaged.
Notre Dame’s tremendous organ, boasting some 8,000 pipes, also appears to be relatively unscathed, the Paris deputy mayor, Emmanuel Gregoire, said on Tuesday morning, per AP.
Notre Dame sustained “colossal damage,” particularly to sections made of wood, cathedral spokesman Andre Finot told reporters.
Heartbreaking footage shows the moment the building’s delicate spire, which was built in the 19th century, collapsed.
Two-thirds of the cathedral’s roof was also destroyed, as well as most ― if not all ― of its wooden framework, which consisted primarily of oak.
“The framework, which dates from the 19th century on one side and the 13th century on the other, there will be nothing left,” Finot told Le Monde. “We have to see if the vault, which protects the cathedral, will be affected or not.”
President Macron has vowed that France, with the help of its friends worldwide, will “rebuild Notre Dame, because it’s what the French people expect.”
“It’s what our history deserves. It’s our profound destiny,” he said.