Notre Dame's Public Plaza Reopens Over a Year After Devastating Fire (Video)
The site will be continually cleaned and monitored for public health as the cathedral’s renovations continue.
For the first time since a tragic fire swept through Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, its forecourt has now opened to the public.
The open plaza in front of the cathedral's main entrance welcomed back visitors over the weekend after flames destroyed most of the iconic attraction and its surrounding grounds in April of 2019, the city announced in a press release.
According to The Associated Press, the opening was able to take place after a massive cleaning that removed toxic lead dust that lingered after the fire.
The site will be continually cleaned and monitored for public health as the cathedral’s renovations continue, however, it will likely be at least several more years before the renovations are complete and Notre Dame can reopen to the public. Projected completion is slotted for 2024.
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, posted a video to Twitter from the grounds of Notre Dame this weekend, saying it was “an immense pleasure” to attend the reopening.
While Paris waits for its iconic landmark to reopen, a smaller chapel could be installed in the forecourt. Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit told EuroNews the forecourt could feature something “more modest,” like a representation of the Virgin Mary where parishioners could pray.
The forecourt was supposed to reopen earlier this year but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The restoration of Notre Dame is a symbol of the resilience of our people and our capacity to overcome great trials," President Emmanuel Macron said in a video address marking the one-year-anniversary in April, translated by NPR.
Earlier this year, it was reported that up to 50 percent of the cathedral may not be salvageable.