Massive international fundraising campaign underway to rebuild France’s Notre Dame

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An international fundraising campaign has been launched to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral after the centuries-old landmark in the heart of Paris was devastated by fire.

Thousands of stunned Parisians and tourists took to the streets to watch in horror as a fire engulfed the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, destroying its spire and a large part of the roof. After fire crews battled the blaze for hours, emergency services confirmed that the medieval cathedral’s two main rectangular towers had been “saved and preserved”.

French president Emmanuel Macron declared a national emergency after visiting the site and donors from across the world pledged funds to restore the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece.

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Efforts are being made to salvage the art and historic pieces stored inside the 12th-century building, which receives up to 14 million visitors per year. Among its priceless artefacts are the crown of thorns – a Catholic relic which is displayed on Fridays during Lent, the 8000-pipe great organ and Nicolas Coustou’s sculpture Descent From the Cross.

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The cause of the blaze is unknown but officials said it was possibly linked to the ongoing renovation work. Unesco’s director Audrey Azoulay said there was “huge emotion” and the organisation “stands alongside France to help safeguard and rebuild this inestimable piece of our heritage”.

This article was first published on www.lonelyplanet.com.