The world's eyes are on Paris this morning as a devastating fire broke out in Notre-Dame yesterday evening (15th April). People lined the streets to watch aghast as flames engulfed the iconic cathedral, eventually causing the spire to collapse completely. While the full extent of the damage is not yet known, it is hoped that fire fighters managed to rescue the majority of the priceless art from inside the building; Franck Riester, France's minister of culture even shared photographs on Twitter of officials removing some of the relics, loading them safely onto a lorry.
President Macron was quick to state that the building would be restored, even as the fire still burned. Hours later, in the wake of the flames, two of fashion's most powerful CEOs pledged millions of euros to help make Macron's promise a reality. François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering – which owns brands including Balenciaga, McQueen, Gucci and Saint Laurent – has pledged €100 million, while Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH – parent company of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi – has donated €200 million.
In a statement, Arnault said: “The Arnault family and the LVMH group would like to show their solidarity at this time of national tragedy, and are joining up to help rebuild this extraordinary cathedral, which is a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity."
Why did the Notre-Dame catch fire?
The cause of the fire is still unknown, but the Paris prosecutor's office said it was currently being investigated as an accident. Officials also said it could be linked to the extensive renovation works that have been taking place.
The fire began at 18:30 in Paris (16:30 GMT) and was fully extinguished 15 hours later, as fire fighters worked through the night to try and control the flames. Unfortunately, it quickly engulfed the roof, causing the central spire to collapse completely.
What's the history of the Notre-Dame?
Dating back to the medieval period, the Notre-Dame cathedral is one of the world's most impressive examples of French Gothic architecture. Construction began in 1160 and took around 100 years to complete fully.
The cathedral has loomed throughout history – it was desecrated during the French Revolution in the late 18th century, with much of the religious imagery destroyed or damaged. Then, in 1804, it was the site of Napoleon I's coronation as he became Emperor of France.
In 1831, Victor Hugo published The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which led to a major restoration project between 1844 and 1864, during which time the cathedral was given its iconic spire.
Was anything saved in Notre-Dame?
While the extent of the damage is still unknown, officials worked tirelessly to try to rescue as many of the relics and treasures as possible inside Notre-Dame.
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, said: "We had a chain of solidarity, especially in saving the works of art... [They] were able to be saved and put in a safe place. This is a tragedy for the whole world... Notre-Dame is the entire history of Paris."
It is thought that officials managed to save some of the most valuable items, including what is said to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus before his crucifixion.