First photos from inside Notre Dame cathedral show relatively untouched altar

Incredible photos have emerged from within the Notre Dame cathedral after it was engulfed by a monstrous inferno.

The blaze, which started early on Tuesday (local time), is suspected to have begun in the structure's attic, before spreading to a spire and destroying parts of the roof.

A church spokesperson earlier said they were concerned the flames may destroy the entire iconic landmark, including the main vault.

But while photos inside the building show some destruction, for the most part, the vault has remained intact with the pulpit relatively untouched.

One image shows smoke rising from rubble in front of the altar, with a cross hanging in the background.  Above the vault, an orange glow can be seen as the fire continues in other sections of the structure.

Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool - RC1F76561F10
Photo credit: Reuters
Flames and smoke are seen as the interior continues to burn inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, April 16, 2019.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool - RC13AE15B030
Photo credit: Reuters

Relief efforts are already being organised, with French President Emmanuel Macron declaring that the destroyed parts of the cathedral would be rebuilt with the help of a fundraising campaign.

The cathedral is one of the city's most famous attractions, drawing roughly 13 million visitors a year, and is the seat of the archbishop of Paris.

Its construction began in 1163 and wasn't completed until 1345.

However, it quickly became a jewel of gothic architecture, and hosted the coronation of Henry VI of England in 1431 as well as Napoleon in 1804.

The 1800s were a time of significant change for the cathedral, with architects brought in to do up the spire and renovate other sections which hadn't been looked after.

The renovations underway when the fire broke out included repairing broken gargoyles.