Worldwide icon-chevron-right Work has begun on the hardest part of rebuilding Notre-Dame
Notre-Dame de Paris
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / MOSSOT

Work has begun on the hardest part of rebuilding Notre-Dame

Construction workers have started removing 20 tons of melted scaffolding in the latest stage of restoration

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Just a week ago, the magnificent forecourt of Paris’s famous cathedral opened to the public for the first time in 13 months. Now Notre-Dame itself is one step closer to being restored to its former glory, as workers yesterday began the hardest part of the job: removing 20 tons of melted scaffolding from the building’s roof.

When the fire broke out in April last year, the cathedral’s spire was due to undergo renovation work and was surrounded by a huge scaffolding structure. The spire and much of the roof collapsed during the blaze, but the scaffolding survived, melting and attaching to the building below. Removing it is one of the major obstacles to restoring the cathedral.

Yesterday, construction workers dangled from ropes 50 metres in the air and used saws to start to carve away the huge metal tangle, made up of 40,000 individual tubes. The scaffolding must be removed without damaging the limestone walls holding the cathedral’s gothic vaults in place.

Of the delicate operation currently under way, Christophe-Charles Rousselot, who runs a charity raising funds to pay for the restoration, said: ‘It's a bit like open-heart surgery, because we are in the middle of the cathedral between the transept and its heart: precisely where the spire crashed.’

This preparatory work will last three to four months and should pave the way for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame’s roof and spire. Once the scaffolding is removed, a temporary roof will be raised and engineers will be able to inspect more closely the damage to the building’s vaults.

French president Emmanuel Macron has said he hopes the cathedral will be fully restored by 2024 – when Paris will host the Summer Olympics. Right now, it looks like they’re on track.

Want to explore Paris from the comfort of your home? These amazing colour photos show the French capital in the 1960s and these are the city’s 25 greatest works of art.

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