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The current cathedral of Notre-Dame was commissioned by King Louis VII of France who commissioned impressive monuments to demonstrate to the world that Paris was the political, economic, religious and cultural capital of France.

Firefighters have rushed to try to contain a fire that broke out at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday evening, 15 April.

As the flames tore through the 12th-century cathedral, Spain's prime minister offered France the help of his country in the recovery.

The former USA president called Notre Dame "one of the world's greatest treasures".

The French Civil Security service, possibly responding to U.S. President Donald Trump's suggestion that firefighters "act quickly" and employ flying water tankers, said that was not an option as it might destroy the entire building.

Shocked onlookers watched as the more-than-850-year-old church was engulfed in flames.

A center of Roman Catholic faith, over the centuries Notre-Dame has also been a target of political upheaval.

An huge tragedy is now unfolding in Paris as a fire has broken out in the world-famous Notre-Dame cathedral and is spreading rapidly.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted saying her "thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services fighting this awful blaze".

"Notre-Dame belonged to all humanity".

Notre-Dame de Paris, meaning "Our Lady of Paris", was begun in 1160 AD and mostly completed by 1260 AD.

"What a sad spectacle".

President Emmanuel Macron postponed a televised speech to the nation because of the stunning blaze and was going to the cathedral himself. Firefighters atop cherry picker cranes sprayed water onto the church in an attempt to calm the flames.

Speculation on the news at current is that the current restoration project may be tied to the fire; reports at the moment say that no one has been injured.

"Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo used a Latin phrase used to represent Paris since around 1358, which roughly translates as: "[She] is tossed by the waves but does not sink". Tonight, all Parisians and Frenchmen mourn this symbol of our common history. "Fluctuat NEC mergitur", she tweeted.