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These photos show the destruction and beauty of the Notre Dame Cathedral

Photographs show the steeple before and after the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.
Photographs show the steeple before and after the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.(AFP/Getty Images)

A massive fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris’ soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below.

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages as well as one of the most beloved structures in the world. Situated on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the Seine river, its architecture is famous for, among other things, its many gargoyles and its iconic flying buttresses.

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Among the most celebrated artworks inside are its three stained-glass rose windows, placed high up on the west, north and south faces of the cathedral. Its priceless treasures also include a Catholic relic, the crown of thorns, which is only occasionally displayed, including on Fridays during Lent.

A combination of photographs of people attending a mass (above) in June 2018 and an interior view (bottom) after the fire.
A combination of photographs of people attending a mass (above) in June 2018 and an interior view (bottom) after the fire.(LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
The interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral is seen through a doorway on Tuesday.
The interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral is seen through a doorway on Tuesday.(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Combination photographs of scaffolding during the restoration and during the fire of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Combination photographs of scaffolding during the restoration and during the fire of Notre Dame Cathedral.(LUDOVIC MARIN,GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)
The altar cross at Notre-Dame Cathedral after a fire engulfed the building.
The altar cross at Notre-Dame Cathedral after a fire engulfed the building.(PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)
(PATRICK KOVARIK,BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)