Chinese Netizens React to Tragic Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral

By Ryan Gandolfo, April 16, 2019

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News of the blaze that engulfed the famed Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday evening has struck a chord with more than just Parisians. Across the world, people have been rocked by tragic images and videos of the 850-year-old cathedral going up in flames. 

Roughly 500 firefighters helped save the structure from complete destruction; however, two-thirds of the roof was destroyed, according to the New York Times.

Chinese netizens have reacted to the horrific incident, sharing photos from previous trips to the cathedral and writing heartfelt posts detailing their experiences visiting the architectural marvel. One netizen posted, “I can’t believe it. Nearly 200 years of scrupulous work went into constructing this majestic church, and in just minutes it gets destroyed in a great blaze.” Another person recalled the good times she had seeing Notre Dame, writing “I have a beautiful memory visiting [the cathedral], and sadly, it's going to be another big loss in the history of architecture.”

As of press time, the trending Weibo hashtag #NotreDameCathedralLargeFire (#巴黎圣母院大火#) has been followed over 1.2 billion times, and over 500,000 netizens are discussing the topic. 

Image via Weibo

Others spoke to the future, hoping other historic buildings and structures will survive the test of time. “I really hope the world doesn’t have to suffer through another one of these cultural structures like the Old Summer Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral being reduced to rubble. I hope that in the years to come, future generations will still have real things to admire,” wrote another Weibo user.

Like the person above, many Chinese netizens have compared yesterday’s tragic fire to that of the Old Summer Palace, which was looted and burned down by British and French forces during the Second Opium War.

Image via @我叫孔凡轩/Weibo

One Weibo user posted, “This morning everyone is discussing the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, which has caused many people to recall the history of the Old Summer Palace. Even though that event took place a long time ago, I can’t forget the time my history teacher spoke of that sorrowful event. But at least they still have the opportunity to repair the damage, while the Old Summer Palace will forever be history.” Another person simply stated, “This calls to mind the time the Old Summer Palace was burned down.”

Other comments referred to the cathedral’s burning down as retribution for the ravaging of the Old Summer Palace; however, many were quick to challenge those cynical remarks. “War is guilty, art is innocent. The guilty are the aggressors, not buildings,” commented one person. 

[Cover image via @新浪娱乐/Weibo]

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