The world was shocked as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was recently engulfed in flames but why is so much fuss being made about it?  

Construction of the Cathedral started in 1163 and took 182 years of manpower to complete. The work of generations has been undone in just 15 hours when the roof and spire were destroyed.  John Shepherd, director of preservation and facilities at the Washington National Cathedral, said "That's 800 years of history, of people pilgrimaging there and worshiping there, and the accumulation of culture." He talked about Notre Dame’s "stunning and exclusive stained-glass windows," which, luckily, survived the fire. 

The Cathedral collected many relics across the years that have religious significance for Christians. Amongst these, there is the Holy Crown and a piece of wood believed to be from the Cross Jesus died on. These are thousands of years old and, luckily, most of the relics and artworks were rescued from the fire.  

Across the years, many important events in both French and British history have occurred in Notre Dame. In 1431, Henry VI of England was coronated inside the Cathedral as a sign of the new found peace between England and France. Napoleon Bonaparte was also crowned in Notre Dame as Emperor of France. The main bell, Emanuelle, that has been rung to mark many significant events in French history such as the end of WW2, has also survived the fire. 

In 1992, Notre Dame became a UNESCO World Heritage Site meaning it is protected by international treaties. This means that the building must be cared for. This, as shown by the fire, does not always protect the building. However it does mean that people are keen to get it rebuilt.  

The building was undergoing conservation works that cost €150m because cracks started to appear in the stone, meaning that people were concerned that it would start to collapse. The renovations were still ongoing when the fire started and some think that this could have been the cause. The loss of the roof has led to the Cathedral being vulnerable to damage from rain which could cause the Cathedral to collapse. So, as a result of the fire, the projected cost of restoration has gone up to about €600m.  

Amazingly these costs have already been met. In the 10 days following the fire, €750m (£650m) was raised to restore the building, including large sums donated by some of France’s billionaires. This shows how important Notre Dame is for France and the world.  However there have been criticisms at so much money being spent on the cathedral when there are many other worthy causes. £650m is enough to restore the Coral Reef three times over. It could also be used to help people living in poverty, but it was donated to a building. 

Notre Dame has significance in many people’s lives, and it is important that it is restored.  Every year, the Cathedral attracts nearly 13 million tourists from across the world. This is a reliable source of income for France and provide many jobs for locals that would not be available otherwise. This means that the impact of the fire is not just a social/cultural but also economical. But does restoring it really have to be this urgent when there are larger issues that could be solved for the same cost as the restoration?  

At a time around Easter, the world is waiting for another rebirth, the rebirth of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.