The world watched and mourned as the iconic, beloved Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris nearly burned to the ground after surviving more than eight centuries and several wars. After it had survived all of that, a construction accident is believed to have started the massive fire that would nearly topple the building altogether.
Fortunately, Notre Dame did not completely fall: The stone walls remain intact, and a growing group of French billionaires and corporations have already pledged over $450 million to rebuild the historic cathedral. Below is an image of the altar, which survived with damage. Smoke can still be seen rising from the pews.
Another, closer look at the altar in the light of day.
Outside the cathedral, Parisians and visitors gathered and, in classic French fashion, some onlookers reportedly sat with bottles of wine and cried, mourned, and watched with astonishment. The banks of the River Seine were filled with onlookers.
Across town, at the highest point in Paris, people gathered at another famous church, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, to watch the fire from a distance. Many appeared to be in disbelief.
Throughout the night, mourners also sang hymns. Here are some of those videos.
In a bright spot amidst the tragedy, many of the cathedral’s most important artworks and artifacts were saved, reportedly through a human chain that moved the art to safety.
For more on the extent of the damage and how the cathedral could be rebuilt, see my colleague Mark Sumner’s post, “Notre Dame de Paris survives, and will be restored.”