Anniversary of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire throws spotlight
This April marks the fourth year since a devastating fire ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture built in the Middle Ages that has kept watch over the French capital for more than eight centuries.
Along with the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral has ranked among the most-visited monuments in France, if not all of Europe. However, it will not reopen to worshippers and visitors until December 2024. Its iconic sharp spire, added by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, collapsed in the blaze, but is set to be back in place by the end of this year, signaling the cathedral's revival.
"The return of the spire in Paris' sky will, in my opinion, be the symbol that we are winning the battle of Notre-Dame," Jean-Louis Georgelin, the French army general in charge of overseeing the colossal project, told the Associated Press last month.
As the cathedral rises from the ashes, the fourth anniversary of the fire has once again sparked discussion about the importance of protecting cultural relics.
In recent decades, China has attached great importance to this, promoting the creative transformation and development of parts of traditional Chinese culture, and striving to facilitate more international cooperation in related fields.
In July 2015, French authorities returned 32 gold ornament that had been stolen from ancient Chinese tombs and held by French collectors. They were handed over to the Gansu Provincial Museum in northwest China, marking the first repatriation of looted relics from France following bilateral negotiations between the two sides.
In November 2019, China and France signed a joint declaration on cooperating in the field of cultural heritage, involving partnerships related to the terracotta army of Emperor Qinshihuang's mausoleum in Xi'an, Shaanxi, and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, both of which have been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
In November 2021, a letter of intent was signed between Tianjin University and the French Embassy in China to jointly build a Sino-French Cultural Heritage and Urban Research Center.