France's Notre Dame Cathedral is finally stable and secure enough for artisans to start rebuilding it, more than two years after the shocking fire that tore through its roof, knocked down its spire and threatened to bring the rest of the medieval monument down, too.
The government agency overseeing the reconstruction announced in a statement Saturday that the works to secure the structure — which began the day after the April 15, 2019 fire — are at last complete.
Carpenters, scaffolding experts, professional climbers, organ mechanics and others took part in the effort, which included special temporary structures to secure the iconic towers, vaults and walls of the huge roofless structure, and a special “umbrella” to protect it from the weather.
Negotiations will now begin with companies bidding to take part in the mammoth reconstruction effort, the statement said. It will include some 100 different tenders for various projects. Work to restore the organ will begin in the fall, with other works expected to begin in the winter.
The agency is maintaining President Emmanuel Macron's goal of allowing visitors back inside in 2024, the year Paris hosts the Olympics.
The announcement was made on a weekend that France and countries across Europe celebrate Heritage Days, when historical landmarks, government buildings and other sites are opened to the public.