Notre Dame Cathedral's restoration has been a 5-year journey of dedication and recovery

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Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

This combination photo shows, from top left, clockwise, the scaffolding around the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral spire being removed from Jan. 24, 2024 to March 6, 2024. Scaffolding has enshrouded Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris since a 2019 fire destroyed its spire and roof and threatened to collapse the whole medieval structure. After an unprecedented international reconstruction effort, the scaffolding is at last starting to peel away. (AP Photos captured from La Tour d'Argent restaurant/Alexander Turnbull)

PARIS – The restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following a tragic blaze in April 2019 is a story of dedication and recovery.

The iconic medieval monument immortalized in history, film and literature has been gradually rebuilt over the past five years, through challenges that have included delays during the pandemic and the loss of the project's leader.

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It's slated for completion by the end of 2024. Here is a timeline of events in the restoration:

April 2019 — A fire ravages Notre Dame, collapsing its roof and spire and destroying its interior, unleashing a global wave of solidarity. A monumental effort to restore the cathedral's grandeur is launched, and French President Emmanuel Macron pledges to complete it within five years.

June 2020 — The pandemic delays work at the cathedral, but removing charred scaffolding that had encased the spire amid previous restoration works marked a significant step.

August 2020 — Efforts begin to restore the organ that once thundered through the cathedral — France's largest musical instrument. The 8,000-pipe organ survived the fire, but was coated in toxic lead dust. Dismantling, cleaning and reassembling it is expected to finish this year.

March 2021 -- The first of an expected 1,000 historic French oak trees destined to rebuild the spire are selected from the Bercé forest in the French Loire region.

September 2021 — Work to secure the structure is finally completed, after carpenters, scaffolding experts, climbers and others help build temporary structures and a special enormous ‘’umbrella'' to protect the towers, vaults and walls of the roofless building. Bidding starts on the rest of the reconstruction.

Spring 2022 — Workshops of master glassmakers and locksmiths from across France begin the laborious process of cleaning and restoring the cathedral’s famed stained glass windows. Help also comes from abroad: Germany’s Cologne Cathedral restores four windows.

July 2023 — Massive oak trusses are hoisted onto Notre Dame, drawing Parisians to witness what is described as a magical moment, intertwined with preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

August 2023 — France mourns the sudden death of General Jean-Louis Georgelin, the French army general who had been appointed to oversee the restoration. President Macron hails him as the “greatest soldier” dedicated to restoring Notre Dame “stone by stone.”

December 2023 — A golden rooster, reimagined as a phoenix, is returned to the top of the cathedral's spire, symbolizing Notre Dame's rebirth. Religious relics, including pieces of what is said to be Jesus Christ’s Crown of Thorns, are placed in a time capsule inside the golden bird.

February 2024 — Scaffolding is removed to unveil the cathedral’s new spire, adorned with the golden rooster and a cross. It offers a glimpse into the future as Notre Dame nears its grand reopening.

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