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​Pictures Taken Over 100 Years Apart Show The Rich History Of Notre-Dame

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​Pictures Taken Over 100 Years Apart Show The Rich History Of Notre-Dame

Yesterday the world watched on in horror as Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral went up in flames.

While firefighters were eventually able to tackle the ferocious blaze, the flames weren't going quietly - and tragically took the building's spire and roof with them.

Now 856 years old, the grand building has become not only one of the city's most famous landmarks, but also a major European tourist destination - with approximately 13 million people from around the world flocking to the cathedral each year, and an annual average of more than 30,000 visitors per day.

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Indeed, anyone who's been to Paris will have no doubt taken a selfie in front of the two iconic towers or stepped inside to gaze at the magnificent décor. Those brave enough may have even ventured into the archaeological crypt under the forecourt.

Construction on the cathedral began back in 1163, but over the years it has seen many changes and improvements to its architecture.

A photo from around 1900 shows popular concourse in front of the Notre-Dame, which looks (almost) as bustling as we're using to seeing it these days, just with slightly fewer people and a few more horses.

A coloured photograph of the Îsle de la Cité from about 1900. Credit: Galerie Bilderwelt/Credit
A coloured photograph of the Îsle de la Cité from about 1900. Credit: Galerie Bilderwelt/Credit
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The horse and carts were replaced by cars by the 1960s - the decade that saw the creation of the Archaeological Crypt.

The largest crypt in Europe, the sub-terranean world was unearthed during digs that took place between 1965 and 1972, when plans were underway to turn the site into an underground car park.

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The Notre-Dame in 1967. Credit: PA
The Notre-Dame in 1967. Credit: PA

But the forecourt revealed old ruins that dated from antiquity through to the 20th Century, and instead the site was preserved so that it could be exhibited as an underground museum.

These days, the area usually welcomes tens of thousands of people each day, all soaking up the incredible feat in medieval architecture.

The Notre-Dame, photgraphed in 2018. Credit: PA
The Notre-Dame, photgraphed in 2018. Credit: PA
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Not only was it also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, over the years it's also become a revered place for both protest and reflection, with many flocking to the front of the cathedral for a vigil in the wake of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in 2015.

People standing in front of Notre-Dame to observe a minute of silence for the victims of an attack by armed gunmen at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Credit: PA
People standing in front of Notre-Dame to observe a minute of silence for the victims of an attack by armed gunmen at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Credit: PA
'Femen' activists demonstrate in front of Notre-Dame in 2013 to mark the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to resign. Credit: PA
'Femen' activists demonstrate in front of Notre-Dame in 2013 to mark the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to resign. Credit: PA
People spell out 'peace' in Spanish outside the Notre-Dame in 2005 to mark three years since former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt was taken hostage in Colombia. Credit: PA
People spell out 'peace' in Spanish outside the Notre-Dame in 2005 to mark three years since former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt was taken hostage in Colombia. Credit: PA
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Yesterday, however, the horses, cars and tourists of Notre-Dame's colourful past were replaced by an eerie emptiness - apart from the firefighters battling a blaze that threatened to destroy the building's entire history, that is.

Notre Dame cathedral burning, Monday April 15, 2019. Credit: PA
Notre Dame cathedral burning, Monday April 15, 2019. Credit: PA
A firefighter outside the Notre-Dame today. Credit: PA
A firefighter outside the Notre-Dame today. Credit: PA

French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild the famed cathedral and will set up a fundraising effort so that people can pitch in if they please.

He told reporters outside the Notre Dame: "The fire will go on for several days. What's happened this evening is obviously a terrible drama. [Emergency services fought the fire] with extreme courage, professionalism and determination... I would like to thank the firefighters on behalf of the nation.

"At this time, the worst has been avoided. Even if the building hasn't been completely destroyed, the next few hours will be difficult, but thanks to the efforts of so many, the facade has been saved.

"Notre-Dame is our history, our imagination, where we've lived all our great moments, and is the epicentre of our lives.

"It's the story of our books, our paintings. It's the cathedral for all French people, even if they have never been. But it is burning and I know this sadness will be felt by all of our citizens.

"[Today] a national subscription will be launched for people around the country to help rebuild this great Notre-Dame. Because that's what the French people want. That is what their history requires. Because that is our destiny."

Featured Image Credit: PA/Getty

Topics: Paris, News, Notre Dame, History

Jess Hardiman
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