The Edition


Tourists stunned as Notre-Dame cathedral statues fly above Paris

12 April 2019, MVT 19:29
One of 16 copper statues, sitting 50 meters above the ground, is lifted off the Notre-Dame-de-Paris Cathedral to be taken for restoration on April 11, 2019 in the French capital Paris. - Using a 120 meter crane at the foot of the cathedral, the sixteen statues, the 12 apostles and the 4 evangelists, which sit around the spire of the cathedral are being removed to be sent to Perigueux, in southwest France for restoration. The absence of the statues will also signal the start of the renovation work of the spire that will last until 2022. Only then will the statues, commisioned in the 1860s during the great restoration of the cathedral by Viollet-le-Duc, return to their original place. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)
12 April 2019, MVT 19:29

Sixteen copper statues briefly took to the skies over Paris after they were removed from the Notre-Dame cathedral to undergo restoration work.

Tourists at the world-famous landmark were left stunned on Thursday as the statues -- representing the 12 apostles and the four evangelists from the New Testament -- were lifted off the spire of the cathedral by crane.

"What's unique is that it's the first time we've seen them up close since they were set up by Viollet-le-Duc in the 1860s," Marie-Helene Didier, who is in charge of the renovation work, told AFP.

"It's an exceptional event because we've brought the 16 statues down in a single day. It's a magical moment for everyone," she said.

Built between the years 1163 and 1345, Notre-Dame is one of the most popular tourist sites in Paris, drawing around 13 million people every year.

Its spire, like the rest of the gothic edifice, is undergoing an 11-million-euro ($12.4-million) overhaul financed by the French state to repair damage inflicted by time, pollution and the weather.

"Extraordinary," said Sofiane, an onlooker from London, as the statues flew through piercing blue skies suspended from a giant 100-metre (300-foot) crane. "I'll never see anything like it again."

The statues will be put on display inside the cathedral and will travel two-by-two to a specialised restorer in the Dordogne area of southwest France.

Once all have been renovated, they will be put back to their position staring out over the City of Light in 2022.

Paris, France | AFP