Paris (CNN)At dawn on Tuesday, as the first blush of sunrise illuminated Notre-Dame de Paris, residents gathered on the left bank of the river Seine to see the damage wrought by a devastating fire that engulfed the historic cathedral overnight.

Sarah Virot crossed herself as she looked up at the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece, whose name means Our Lady of Paris. The cathedral lost its iconic spire and much of its medieval latticework roof in the blaze. “For me, it’s much more than stones, it’s a part of myself that is burning,” said Virot, 32, who works for a Christian association in the capital.Nine years ago, she stood in the nave of Notre Dame, under its vast wooden rib-vaulted ceiling, known as “the forest,” for her confirmation in the Catholic Church. Seeing the cathedral now, its delicate limestone exterior marred with soot, she was at a loss for words. Firemen inspect the damage at Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, France, on Tuesday, April 16.Firemen inspect the damage at Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, France, on Tuesday, April 16. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralFiremen inspect the damage at Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, France, on Tuesday, April 16.Hide Caption 1 of 32Firefighters exit Notre Dame cathedral on April 16.Firefighters exit Notre Dame cathedral on April 16. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralFirefighters exit Notre Dame cathedral on April 16.Hide Caption 2 of 32People stop to view Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday morning.People stop to view Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday morning. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralPeople stop to view Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday morning.Hide Caption 3 of 32Fire crews continue to secure the cathedral on Tuesday.Fire crews continue to secure the cathedral on Tuesday. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralFire crews continue to secure the cathedral on Tuesday.Hide Caption 4 of 32A woman reacts near Notre Dame the morning after the devastating fire.A woman reacts near Notre Dame the morning after the devastating fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralA woman reacts near Notre Dame the morning after the devastating fire.Hide Caption 5 of 32Members of the fire department inspect the cathedral.Members of the fire department inspect the cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralMembers of the fire department inspect the cathedral.Hide Caption 6 of 32People take photos at the scene, the morning after the fire.People take photos at the scene, the morning after the fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralPeople take photos at the scene, the morning after the fire.Hide Caption 7 of 32Notre Dame is seen at sunrise as firefighters continue to work at the cathedral on the morning of April 16.Notre Dame is seen at sunrise as firefighters continue to work at the cathedral on the morning of April 16. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralNotre Dame is seen at sunrise as firefighters continue to work at the cathedral on the morning of April 16.Hide Caption 8 of 32French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and his wife Brigitte at the scene of the fire on Monday, April 15.French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and his wife Brigitte at the scene of the fire on Monday, April 15. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralFrench President Emmanuel Macron, center, and his wife Brigitte at the scene of the fire on Monday, April 15.Hide Caption 9 of 32Smoke rises in front of the altar cross inside Notre Dame cathedral.Smoke rises in front of the altar cross inside Notre Dame cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralSmoke rises in front of the altar cross inside Notre Dame cathedral.Hide Caption 10 of 32People pray as Notre Dame cathedral burns on Monday evening.People pray as Notre Dame cathedral burns on Monday evening. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralPeople pray as Notre Dame cathedral burns on Monday evening.Hide Caption 11 of 32A fire fighter uses a hose to tackle the flames as the cathedral's roof burns.A fire fighter uses a hose to tackle the flames as the cathedral's roof burns. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralA fire fighter uses a hose to tackle the flames as the cathedral’s roof burns.Hide Caption 12 of 32Crowds gathered on the banks of the Seine watch the firefighters' progress.Crowds gathered on the banks of the Seine watch the firefighters' progress. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralCrowds gathered on the banks of the Seine watch the firefighters’ progress.Hide Caption 13 of 32Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame as a firefighter rushes past.Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame as a firefighter rushes past. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralFlames and smoke rise from Notre Dame as a firefighter rushes past.Hide Caption 14 of 32The fire continues to burn into the night.The fire continues to burn into the night. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralThe fire continues to burn into the night.Hide Caption 15 of 32The interior of the cathedral roof is seen smoldering.The interior of the cathedral roof is seen smoldering. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralThe interior of the cathedral roof is seen smoldering.Hide Caption 16 of 32Located on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the Seine, in central Paris, the cathedral is one of the city's most popular attractions, drawing an estimated 13 million visitors a year.Located on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the Seine, in central Paris, the cathedral is one of the city's most popular attractions, drawing an estimated 13 million visitors a year. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralLocated on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the Seine, in central Paris, the cathedral is one of the city’s most popular attractions, drawing an estimated 13 million visitors a year.Hide Caption 17 of 32Smoke and flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral on April 15.Smoke and flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral on April 15. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralSmoke and flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral on April 15.Hide Caption 18 of 32A woman reacts as she watches flames engulf the roof of the cathedral.A woman reacts as she watches flames engulf the roof of the cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralA woman reacts as she watches flames engulf the roof of the cathedral.Hide Caption 19 of 32Smoke billows from the cathedral's roof and spire during the fire.Smoke billows from the cathedral's roof and spire during the fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralSmoke billows from the cathedral’s roof and spire during the fire.Hide Caption 20 of 32Passers-by watch the cathedral burn. "It's tremendously sad to see this happening to such an iconic monument," bystander Cameron Mitchell <a href="https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/notre-dame-fire/h_f0e87d76f5c736f2e79dffdf7e363b01" target="_blank">told CNN.</a>Passers-by watch the cathedral burn. "It's tremendously sad to see this happening to such an iconic monument," bystander Cameron Mitchell <a href="https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/notre-dame-fire/h_f0e87d76f5c736f2e79dffdf7e363b01" target="_blank">told CNN.</a> Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralPassers-by watch the cathedral burn. “It’s tremendously sad to see this happening to such an iconic monument,” bystander Cameron Mitchell told CNN.Hide Caption 21 of 32Huge clouds of smoke rise into the evening sky as fire engulfs the cathedral.Huge clouds of smoke rise into the evening sky as fire engulfs the cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralHuge clouds of smoke rise into the evening sky as fire engulfs the cathedral.Hide Caption 22 of 32Firefighters worried the cathedral's two bell towers would be destroyed. Firefighters worried the cathedral's two bell towers would be destroyed. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralFirefighters worried the cathedral’s two bell towers would be destroyed. Hide Caption 23 of 32The spire of the landmark cathedral collapses.The spire of the landmark cathedral collapses. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralThe spire of the landmark cathedral collapses.Hide Caption 24 of 32The cause of the fire was not immediately known.The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralThe cause of the fire was not immediately known.Hide Caption 25 of 32A man holds his head in shock as watches the fire take hold.A man holds his head in shock as watches the fire take hold. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralA man holds his head in shock as watches the fire take hold.Hide Caption 26 of 32The roof of the cathedral burns.The roof of the cathedral burns. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralThe roof of the cathedral burns.Hide Caption 27 of 32Horrified bystanders react to the fire.Horrified bystanders react to the fire. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralHorrified bystanders react to the fire.Hide Caption 28 of 32A firefighters gets closer to the flames.A firefighters gets closer to the flames. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralA firefighters gets closer to the flames.Hide Caption 29 of 32Police urged everyone to avoid the area and emergency services directed people away from the scene. Police urged everyone to avoid the area and emergency services directed people away from the scene. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralPolice urged everyone to avoid the area and emergency services directed people away from the scene. Hide Caption 30 of 32People gather on the banks of the Seine to watch the fire's progress.People gather on the banks of the Seine to watch the fire's progress. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralPeople gather on the banks of the Seine to watch the fire’s progress.Hide Caption 31 of 32Flames roar across the roof of the cathedral. Flames roar across the roof of the cathedral. Photos: In pictures: Fire devastates Notre Dame cathedralFlames roar across the roof of the cathedral. Hide Caption 32 of 3205 Notre Dame 041608 Notre Dame 041606 Notre Dame 041604 Notre Dame 041630 notre dame fire UNFURLED09 Notre Dame 041607 Notre Dame 041603 Notre Dame 041629 notre dame fire UNF17 notre dame fire UNFURLED28 notre dame fire UNF22 notre dame fire UNFURLED19 notre dame fire UNFURLED26 notre dame fire UNF RESTRICTED25 notre dame fire UNF31 notre dame fire UNFURLED RESTRICTED10 notre dame fire UNFURLED01b notre dame fire UNFURLED19 notre dame fire 041514 notre dame fire UNFURLED02 notre dame fire UNFURLED06 notre dame fire UNFURLED20 notre dame fire UNFURLED04 notre dame fire UNFURLED03 notre dame fire UNFURLED05 notre dame fire UNFURLED07 notre dame fire UNFURLED11 notre dame fire UNFURLED12 notre dame fire UNFURLED20 notre dame fire 041516 notre dame fire unfurled 21 notre dame fire UNFURLEDThe blaze was finally brought under control early on Tuesday morning after a heroic effort by 400 firefighters, who managed to save the cathedral’s iconic facade and twin towers, along with invaluable artifacts and works of art. Read MoreThey had battled the fire for nine hours, pumping water from the nearby Seine onto the smoldering edifice as Parisians looked on in horror. A Muslim man standing behind a police cordon chanted a song often heard at Paris Saint-Germain football matches. Runners on their morning jogs slowed, hopping from foot to foot as they assessed the damage. Tourists with suitcases in tow stood and stared. An elderly man with a cane walked down a cobblestone street to pay his respects.”People are moved, whether there are Christians or not,” Virot said, adding that she was touched by the solidarity shown by Parisians and visitors alike, especially in the midst of the Holy Week.The heart of ParisNotre Dame sits at the French capital’s geographical and psychological heart, on a small island called the Île de la Cité, embraced on both sides by the Seine. It’s not just the center of the city, but of the country; from it, all other distances to the capital are measured. And so, for Parisians, the cathedral is not just a religious structure, but a shared legacy.Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame has survived rioting Huguenots, the French Revolution, two world wars, air pollution and acid rain. See the moment Notre Dame's iconic spire fallsSee the moment Notre Dame's iconic spire fallsSee the moment Notre Dame's iconic spire fallsJUST WATCHEDSee the moment Notre Dame’s iconic spire fallsReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

See the moment Notre Dame’s iconic spire falls 00:30It was the site of Napoleon Bonaparte’s coronation as emperor and the location for Victor Hugo’s famed novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” later enshrined in popular culture as a Disney fairytale. “Notre Dame is our history, it’s our literature, it’s our imagery,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to the nation as the fire raged. “It’s the place where we live our greatest moments, from wars to pandemics to liberations. It’s an epicentre of our lives and the point where all distances start from.””It’s the cathedral of all French people, including those who never visited it,” Macron added. “This history is ours. And it burns. It burns and I know the sadness so many of our fellow French feel.”Macron pledged to rebuild the cathedral, enlisting the nation’s master craftsmen and women; funding for the repairs has been swiftly secured from French billionaires. Emmanuel Macron: We will rebuild Notre DameEmmanuel Macron: We will rebuild Notre DameEmmanuel Macron: We will rebuild Notre DameJUST WATCHEDEmmanuel Macron: We will rebuild Notre DameReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Emmanuel Macron: We will rebuild Notre Dame 01:12Enduring symbol of FranceThe nation’s beleaguered president had been due to deliver a speech Monday night addressing the demands of the “Yellow Vest” movement, an uprising that began as a protest at rising fuel prices, but has grown into calls for a complete overhaul of France’s social safety net. The months-long demonstrations have marred the capital’s famed boulevards, causing millions of dollars in damage and plunged the nation into a malaise. But on Tuesday, the city came together to mourn an enduring symbol of France.Notre Dame is not just a landmark that knits Parisians together, a shared cultural touchstone, but is admired the world over as a Gothic jewel.<strong>Notre Dame:</strong> Notre Dame -- meaning "Our Lady" in French -- is a Catholic cathedral in the heart of Paris and one of the world's most celebrated buildings. <strong>Notre Dame:</strong> Notre Dame -- meaning "Our Lady" in French -- is a Catholic cathedral in the heart of Paris and one of the world's most celebrated buildings. Photos: Notre Dame cathedral, before the fireNotre Dame: Notre Dame — meaning “Our Lady” in French — is a Catholic cathedral in the heart of Paris and one of the world’s most celebrated buildings. Hide Caption 1 of 7<strong>Wooden interior:</strong> The cathedral's wooden interior was lost in the devastating fire of April 15, 2019. <strong>Wooden interior:</strong> The cathedral's wooden interior was lost in the devastating fire of April 15, 2019. Photos: Notre Dame cathedral, before the fireWooden interior: The cathedral’s wooden interior was lost in the devastating fire of April 15, 2019. Hide Caption 2 of 7<strong>Rose Windows: </strong>The North Rose window, with glass dating back to the 13th century, is believed to be intact. The fate of the other two Rose Windows is still unclear. <strong>Rose Windows: </strong>The North Rose window, with glass dating back to the 13th century, is believed to be intact. The fate of the other two Rose Windows is still unclear. Photos: Notre Dame cathedral, before the fireRose Windows: The North Rose window, with glass dating back to the 13th century, is believed to be intact. The fate of the other two Rose Windows is still unclear. Hide Caption 3 of 7<strong>Bell towers: </strong>The bell towers, known worldwide thanks to Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame," are still intact. <strong>Bell towers: </strong>The bell towers, known worldwide thanks to Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame," are still intact. Photos: Notre Dame cathedral, before the fireBell towers: The bell towers, known worldwide thanks to Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” are still intact. Hide Caption 4 of 7<strong>Altar:</strong> The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris. <strong>Altar:</strong> The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris. Photos: Notre Dame cathedral, before the fireAltar: The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris. Hide Caption 5 of 7<strong>Gargoyles: </strong>The cathedral's gargoyles were carved in the 19th century, for the purpose of projecting rainwater away from the building. <strong>Gargoyles: </strong>The cathedral's gargoyles were carved in the 19th century, for the purpose of projecting rainwater away from the building. Photos: Notre Dame cathedral, before the fireGargoyles: The cathedral’s gargoyles were carved in the 19th century, for the purpose of projecting rainwater away from the building. Hide Caption 6 of 7<strong>Crown of Thorns: </strong>One of the cathedral's most precious relics, a crown made from a band of rushes said to be part of the crown of thorns placed on Jesus's head, was saved from the fire. <strong>Crown of Thorns: </strong>One of the cathedral's most precious relics, a crown made from a band of rushes said to be part of the crown of thorns placed on Jesus's head, was saved from the fire. Photos: Notre Dame cathedral, before the fireCrown of Thorns: One of the cathedral’s most precious relics, a crown made from a band of rushes said to be part of the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’s head, was saved from the fire. Hide Caption 7 of 7notre dame cathedral FILE04 notre dame architecturenotre dame rose window06 notre dame_twin bell towersnotre dame interior 201203 notre dame_gargoyle01 notre dame_crown of thornsThe cathedral is visited by about 13 million people a year, drawn in equal measure by its religious significance, architectural mastery and rich history. It has played host to royal weddings, coronations and the beatification of Joan of Arc. Notre Dame’s largest bell, known as Emmanuel, has tolled to mark global events including papal visits, the conclusion of World Wars and the September 11 attacks.Sitting on a stone railing below one of the cathedral’s three enormous stained-glass rose windows, Sarah Parent du Châtelet was moved to tears at the prospect of its destruction.”I came because I wanted to see something that was hard to imagine,” Parent du Châtelet, 33, told CNN. “I was born in Paris and I know this lady just like an immortal person. It’s impossible to imagine Paris without her.”If the Eiffel Tower came to signify the city’s sparkling future, Notre Dame has, for generations, embodied its past. “She is the heart of Paris, eternal and spiritual,” Parent du Châtelet added.Restoration project underwayThe cathedral has been refurbished at several points over the last seven centuries, but had fallen into disrepair in recent years and was undergoing extensive renovations to safeguard the building — flying buttresses, decorative pinnacles, grimacing gargoyles and all — for the 21st century. Just last week, 16 copper statues representing the twelve apostles and four evangelists were taken down from the cathedral so that refurbishments could be made to the spire. Other restorations were made in the cathedral’s attic, where the fire appears to have originated. Its exterior was wrapped in scaffolding when the blaze took hold on Monday evening. Images show damage inside Notre Dame Cathedral Images show damage inside Notre Dame Cathedral Images show damage inside Notre Dame Cathedral JUST WATCHEDImages show damage inside Notre Dame Cathedral ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Images show damage inside Notre Dame Cathedral 03:09Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz said specialists were beginning an investigation to ascertain what had caused the fire, but said there were no indications it had been started intentionally.On Tuesday morning, four-year-old Martin, who attends a nearby pre-school, walked hand-in-hand with his mother, 37-year-old Alix De Castilla, among the crowds thronging the cathedral to check in on her.De Castilla said she wanted to teach her son the importance of solidarity in a moment like this, the latest in a string of shocks to the capital, including floods when the Seine burst its banks last year and multiple terror attacks in 2015. She suspects this is a moment that will become important in his life as a Parisian.As for Martin, after a long night of waiting and worrying about her fate he was relieved to see Notre Dame still standing. Pausing to smile up at Paris’ much-loved Lady, he breathed a sigh of relief: “It’s OK, she’s still there.”

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https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/16/europe/paris-mourns-notre-dame/index.html

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