Arts & Entertainment

Crypt of Île de la Cité reopens after Notre Dame fire

By Josep Puig

Paris, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- The archaeological crypt of the Ile de la Cité reopened on Wednesday after the Notre Dame fire with an exhibition on the history of the cathedral.

It is located under Notre Dame square, a few meters from the main door of the cathedral, and houses the remains of the ancient city of Paris.

The site had been closed since April last year when the cathedral was devastated by a huge fire.

Curator Sylvie Robin told Efe she was the first to enter the crypt after the blaze to check that the remains of the city were not damaged.

“There was indeed a lot of smoke and a strong sour smell but the walls of the old city had not been affected,” she adds.

It reopened to the public with a photographic and audiovisual exhibit exploring the history of the cathedral including Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame and its renovation by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

“Victor Hugo wanted to preserve the historical monuments of France, which in the 19th century were in a terrible state of conservation, and he was against the movements of the time that advocated leaving behind classical constructions and opting for more modern elements,” Robin says.

“Hugo inspired Parisians by placing the cathedral as the protagonist of his novel and Viollet-le-Duc extracts from its pages ideas and characters that he captures in the new image of the cathedral.”

The restoration was completed in 1864 after years of work and included the 96-meter-tall spire that was destroyed by the flames last year, which French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild with its original appearance.

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