In 2019, an inferno tore through Notre-Dame cathedral’s roof, consuming the fragile spire as Paris watched in horror. Firefighters saved the structure, including its two iconic towers, but two-thirds of the roof were destroyed. Within days, an $865 million project was launched, only to progress in spurts due to the Covid-19 lockdown, a slew of archaeological finds below the church’s foundation, and a controversial modernization plan.

But the end is in sight: the church will officially reopen its doors to visitors one year from today, the French government has announced. According to the Associated Press, French President Emmanuel Macron—hard-hat in tow—will tour the site with the stonemasons and carpenters currently working to meet the 12-month deadline, and afterward hand off proceedings to Notre Dame’s clergy for a long-awaited service. 

The cathedral is “not the biggest cathedral nor perhaps the most beautiful,” the Rev. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, its rector, told AP, but “it is the incarnation of a nation’s soul.”

“The expectations, the preparations for the reopening are a magnificent sign of hope in a difficult world,” he added.

The rebuilding effort at Notre-Dame has been a divisive topic within France and internationally. Shortly after the fire was contained, French collector François Pinault and his son François-Henri pledged €100 million (about $113 million) toward the effort. Hours later, collector Bernard Arnault announced that he would donate €200 million (about $226 million).

Reconstruction began in earnest in 2022, after excavations to ensure the structure could sustain the work. The French have spared no energy or expense in returning the cathedral to its former glory: the towering spire was rebuilt according to architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s 1859 design, with monumental beams produced from some 1,500 oaks treated and cut per medieval carpentry techniques supporting the roof. After public outcry, Macron abandoned unpopular plans to replace the 19th-century spire with a “contemporary architectural gesture.”

While the interior still bears scars from the fire, the roof and spire are set to be complete when millions of Olympic fans descend on Paris for the Summer Games opening July 26.