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Notre-Dame Cathedral
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Notre-Dame could get a new ‘Disney’ look – and people are pissed off

One architect described the new designs as turning the church into a ‘theme park that trivialises the grandeur of the place’

Sophie Dickinson
Written by
Sophie Dickinson

The Notre-Dame fire in 2019 was genuinely shocking. One of the most beloved buildings in Paris, just going up in flames? It was an international news story for weeks and now all eyes are on the renovation.

Rebuilding this historically significant religious building was never going to be easy. But plans have been announced for its new look – and unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy. The medieval interior, according to some experts, is about to become an ‘experimental showroom’. That’s a pretty big change to the twelfth-century designs, which previously looked like a very beautiful but very traditional cathedral. 

Apparently, the new look is going to replace some of the more classical elements of the church with modern art and ‘emotion spaces’, created by light and sound effects. There will be a themed discovery trail, looking at Christianity around the world, with verses from the Bible projected on to the walls. 

It sounds like a, shall we say, interesting reinterpretation of the popular tourist spot, and some are not impressed. Speaking to The Telegraph, architect Maurice Culot complained that the changes ‘would never be done to Westminster Abbey or Saint Peter’s in Rome. It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place.’

‘It’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame,’ he added. 

Experts behind the renovation of the gothic masterpiece have promised the work will be done in time for 2024, when Paris is due to host the Olympic Games. A quite-possibly-disgruntled source close to the project told the newspaper that ‘they want to turn Notre-Dame into an experimental liturgical showroom that exists nowhere else, whereas it should be a landmark where the slightest change must be handled with great care’.

Whether the new plans will be made a reality, then, are unclear. We reckon it’ll remain controversial until the doors to the cathedral are reopened for good, so keep an eye out for more developments.

Notre-Dame isn’t the only landmark being renovated for the Olympics: the Eiffel Tower is getting a golden makeover, too.

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