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A massive fire devastated the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this week, an 856-year-old structure that survived wars, riots and revolutions.

While the cause of the fire is undetermined, more than $1 billion in donations have already been pledged to restore the cathedral. As police, fire officials and architects determine the extent of the damage, Laura Weigert, a professor of art history in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and director of the Program in Medieval Studies, discussed the historical value of the renowned structure.

Weigert, who teaches a course in gothic art and architecture, offered insight into the significance of the cathedral and what it means in history and architectural ingenuity.