The world was left in shock as news that the Notre Dame Cathedral, the famous landmark in Paris, had been destroyed by fire.
The Notre Dame Cathedral (Photo: Wang Qi/GT)
Although the fire was brought under control and it was announced that all the collections are safe, the damage done to this world heritage site broke people's hearts in China.
"Quasimodo has lost his lover Esmeralda, and now he lost his home," posted one netizen on Sina Weibo.
"My heart broke. This is a huge loss for all of humanity," wrote another.
The news of the fire quickly became of a hot topic on Chinese social media, with news related to the incidence receiving more than 830 million views and numerous pictures posted to the platform.
While most Chinese have never been to the cathedral, the building has an important place in the hearts of many people in China due to the popularity of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The work was written by the French romantic novelist Victor Hugo, who is also well known in China for his stance on the protection of historic landmarks and his objection to the razing and looting of Beijing's Old Summer Palace by Anglo-French allied forces in 1860.
With a score of 8.9/10 on Chinese media review site Douban, the novel is now is considered "a must-read masterpiece for middle school students."
The Hunchback of Notre Dame has also been adapted to numerous films and operas over the past few decades, allowing the story and the cathedral to become a window for Chinese people to learn more about French culture.
Although it was released in 1956, the film version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame has an 8.0/10 on Douban, while the opera version has a 9.4/10, hinting at the profound influence the building has had on Chinese people.
"When I read Victor Hugo's depiction of this grand cathedral during high school, I was fascinated by its gothic style and sense of destiny. I wanted to see the place where Quasimodo rings the bell with my lover, but now only a pity remains," netizen Handsome Jiangniao commented.