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France Launches International Contest To Design Notre Dame Spire’s Replacement

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France announced Wednesday that it will launch a contest to design a spire to replace Notre Dame Cathedral’s famous central tower destroyed in the tragic fire Monday.

“Notre Dame should be given a new spire adapted to the techniques and goals of our era,” French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said, according to the WSJ.

The spire was added to the cathedral in the 19th century after an earlier spire was removed from the church in the 18th century because it was unstable, according to the WSJ. French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc designed the tower destroyed in Monday’s fire.

The contest will consider whether the spire should be built identically to the spire that perished in the fire, the WSJ reported.

The 850-year-old church in Paris caught fire Monday evening, and destroyed its iconic spire in addition to the majority of the church’s roof. The cathedral’s vaulted ceiling also suffered massive damage, but appeared to have protected many of the more flammable objects in the church from burning. The cathedral’s pulpit, organ and pews, and rose glass windows appear to have withstood the fire with little to no damage, according to French officials.

Approximately 500 firefighters responded to the blaze which burned for nine hours.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that France intends to completely rebuild Notre Dame in five years, but experts predict it will take between 10 and 15 years.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. Experts do not suspect foul play. “Nothing at this stage suggests a voluntary act,” Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz told The New York Times.

Two French billionaires on Tuesday vowed to donate millions to the cathedral’s recovery effort. Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger said Wednesday that Disney will donate $5 million to help rebuild the church.

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