A man watches landmark Notre Dame Cathedral burn, in central Paris.

A man watches landmark Notre Dame Cathedral burn, in central Paris.

We haven’t yet grasped the total damage wrought by the fire that burned through Notre Dame in Paris.

Although officials say the cathedral will be rebuilt, the structure remains intact and French billionaires are already pitching in to assist in the reconstruction efforts, some reports suggest the process could take decades.

NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley described the scene outside the cathedral while it was in flames:

“There’s kind of a silence here,” Beardsley said. “People are not screaming; they’re just watching it burn and people are in a state of shock. Outside in the periphery, it’s pandemonium in the city. They’ve stopped the trains from going by here; they’re stopping traffic, police everywhere. But in a tighter circle around the cathedral we’re just watching it burn.”

It’s not the same as being there, but you can still tour Notre Dame — in virtual reality.

Take a look:

We’re exploring how institutions like cathedrals, mosques and temples hold an iconic cultural significance that extends beyond religion. Can this be captured with digital preservation? How are nations around the world preserving their cultural treasures?

Produced by James Morrison and Amanda Williams.


  • John Ristevski CEO, CyArk; @jaristevski
  • Samantha Herrick Associate Professor of History, Syracuse University
  • Gerard Araud French ambassador to the United States; @GerardAraud
  • Randolph Marshall Hollerith Very Reverend; Dean of the National Cathedral; @rhollerith

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