Renovations to Paris’ landmark Notre Dame Cathedral, which was ravaged by fire in 2019, will turn it into a “politically correct Disneyland,” critics who have the work plans complain.
“It’s as if Disney were entering Notre Dame,” Paris-based architect and critic Maurice Culot told The Telegram after seeing the plans.
“What they are proposing to do to Notre Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or Saint Peter’s in Rome. It’s kind of a theme park and very childish and trivial, given the grandeur of the place.”
The proposed changes, which have been reviewed by the publication, include replacing the cathedral’s confessional boxes, altars, and sculptures with sound and light effects that they say will create “emotional spaces,” and adding modern art murals.
A “discovery trail,” with an emphasis on Africa and Asia, is also planned, and quotes from the Bible are to be projected on walls in various languages. The final part of the trail will focus on the environment.
The changes will turn the cathedral into an “experimental showroom” that mutilates the work of Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, the architect who had restored Notre Dame after the French Revolution in an effort to recapture medieval Christianity, a senior source with access to the plans said.
“Can you imagine the administration of the Holy See allowing something like this in the Sistine Chapel?” this person said. “This is political correctness gone mad. They want to turn Notre-Dame into an experimental liturgical showroom that exists nowhere else.”
However, the source said the church must remain as a “landmark where the slightest change must be handled with great care.”
The new plans seem to affect areas that were not less damaged in the April 16, 2019 fire, which engulfed the cathedral’s roof and caused its 19th-century spire to collapse.
Those parts will be restored to their former condition, The Telegraph reports.
Donors gave millions of dollars for the cathedral’s restoration, including to secure it, as it had been structurally damaged.
Jean-Louis Georgelin, the general tasked with rebuilding the cathedral, says it will be sufficiently reformed in time to offer prayers on April 16, 2024, before the Paris Olympic Games.
Other plans for the cathedral were met with outcry after Edouard Philippe, the prime minister of France when the fire happened, said he’d launch an international contest to rebuild the roof and spire and that modern design would be considered.
However, as several entries came in, including one with a swimming pool, the contest was abandoned and it was decided to rebuild the cathedral’s roof and spire as closely as possible to its original specifications.
Christian Rousselot, the director-general of the Notre Dame Foundation, who is in charge of handling most of the donations for the restoration, confirmed plans for a “visitors’ discovery trail” that will “provide the keys to half the planet that doesn’t know what a cathedral is.”
He also confirmed the plans to beam foreign phrases on the walls in Mandarin, French, Spanish, and English. He also confirmed that the proposal to project foreign phrases on the walls, because foreign visitors “don’t understand a thing” when they see “signs and magnificent paintings.”
The plans also call for a “goods elevator” to be used to store benches underground. That would require making a hole in the 18th-century crypt that was designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot.
Meanwhile, a proposal to remove stained glass windows designed by Viollet-le-Duc from the chapels and replace them with modern ones has been ruled out, Rousselot confirmed.
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