Drone footage captured Notre Dame cathedral's beauty just five months before Monday's fire. Video game publisher Ubisoft, which recreated the Notre Dame Cathedral in its 2014 game "Assassin's Creed Unity," is willing to help in restoration efforts. The company announced Wednesday it is making a contribution of 500,000 Euros (about $565,000) to the rebuilding of the cathedral. And the Paris-headquartered game maker said Wednesday it will make its virtual rendition of the cathedral available to those involved in the rebuilding of the church. Ubisoft is also making "Assassin's Creed Unity" available free to players on PC for the next week.
Video game creators at Ubisoft Montréal – the development studio that rebuilt 18th-century Paris in its 2014 historical action game Assassin's Creed Unity – have joined the global outpouring of grief in the wake of Monday's devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Ubisoft will be donating €500,000 to help with restoration efforts, and is also making Assassin's Creed Unity available free on PC for the next week, "giving everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre Dame the best way we know how", said a studio spokesperson. "We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture." Caroline Miousse, a level artist on the game, spent 14 months working almost exclusively on the cathedral, inside and out. It is furnished and decorated as it would have been in 1790, down to the paintings hanging on the walls.
The battle to halt the devastating blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris evoked memories of the fire that took hold in York Minster 35 years ago. Millions of euros have been pledged to help rebuild Notre-Dame after Monday's fire destroyed much of the 850-year-old Gothic building. In the early hours of 9 July 1984, lightning set fire to York Minster's south transept causing £2.25m damage. Experts at York said restoring Notre-Dame was "quite achievable". John David, a master mason at York Minster, said Notre-Dame could be rebuilt using traditional crafts.
No other site represents France quite like Notre-Dame. Its main rival as a national symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is little more than a century old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the 1200s. It has given its name to one of the country's literary masterpieces. Victor Hugo's novel Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to the French simply as Notre Dame de Paris.
The grief caused by the near-destruction of Notre-Dame may seem puzzling for a country as resistant to religion as France. But the mass devotion the cathedral attracts is not a spiritual one. It is rooted in the building's location at the heart of the nation's intellectual life. Notre-Dame dominates the Latin Quarter - named after the language spoken by the scholars and students that flocked there in medieval times. Just down the river are the Louvre, a royal palace turned into the world's largest museum, and the grand building of the Institut de France, the country's foremost learned society.