Two iconic monuments in Paris are loved and admired by people all over the world. One is the Eiffel Tower, the other is the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
The Eiffel Tower was built in the early 19th century. It was supposed to be a temporary structure for the 1900 World Expo. Notre Dame was built more than 850 years ago. It took 200 years to build.
Of the two, Notre Dame has a much deeper affect on people. It is more than a place a worship. It is the representation of a world civilisation. The pain of its burning also symbolizes a civilisation in flames.
Everyone is affected – from all lands and cultures – having seen this monument personally or not. That is why the burning of Notre Dame is being mourned deeply all around the world. It’s a reminder of cultural losses, grand or small.
Cultural monuments offer us more than awesome beauty; they provide us with a sense of solidity, of place and time. They remind us of who we are, how we got here and where we may be going. When these markers are neglected for too long, bad things happen.
The burning of this great symbol is a stark reminder to all that if care is not given to culture and the physical legacies it leaves along its trail, wherever that may be – all can go up in flames.
Notre Dame’s fire is attributed as accidental. It’s bad enough when destruction is from natural causes. Wars, of course, are the most destructive to societies. How many more reminders do we need?
Update on Notre Dame de Paris (May 2019):
Insight from an expert on the reconstruction:
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