Notre-Dame cathedral will rise again. But it will never be the same

"You still haven't seen Notre-Dame's west facade," we tease my dad. The first time my mother, an art historian and Gothic architecture obsessive, took us to Paris's iconic cathedral, the front was covered in scaffolding, as workers were painstakingly removing years of accumulated grime, turning the brooding, dark grey stone so many shades lighter that it almost seemed white.

My mother, my sister and I visited the lightened edifice years later. My dad had to work. We rub it in. Uncovered were the 28 kings of Judah, standing in a dramatic row on the cathedral's facade. Mistaken for old French monarchs, the statues were beheaded and removed during the tumult of the French Revolution. New versions were installed in the 19th century.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline 'Notre-Dame cathedral will rise again. But it will never be the same'. Print Edition | Subscribe