United Nations: Two-thirds of the largely medieval roof of the famed Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris have ‘gone’ after the devastating fire in Paris, but UN cultural experts are standing by to offer help in rebuilding the iconic structure, UNESCO World Heritage Centre Director Mechtild Rössler said, Tuesday.
Rössler, who visited the site Tuesday, told ‘UN News’ that the cathedral is a universal symbol and the centre of France and its devastation has left people across nations shocked. She described seeing people praying outside the stricken symbol of the city and the nation, still trying to take in the scale of the disaster.
“I saw many, many people going from the Metro, to the site of Notre- Dame, and I have to say many are still in a state of shock, because it’s not only the Christian community, it’s a building for all of us,” said Rössler. “Really, it’s a universal symbol and it’s the centre of France… I think this is really shocking people profoundly and they lost something that is part of their identity.”
Rössler said that a team of UNESCO experts is on hand to investigate the stability of the stonework and potential damage to stained glass windows, echoing a statement by the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, in which she announced that a ‘rapid damage assessment’ would be carried out as soon as possible with the authorities.
The Cathedral is part of the World Heritage site officially known as ‘Paris, Banks of the Seine’, inscribed on the World Heritage List, in 1991.
“Notre-Dame represents a historically, architecturally, and spiritually, outstanding universal heritage. It is also a monument of literary heritage, a place that is unique in our collective imagination,” said the UNESCO chief. “The inferno which engulfed the cathedral appears to have left the medieval stonework intact. The disaster reminds us of the power of heritage that connects us to one another. We are receiving messages of support from all over the world,” she added.