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Notre-Dame Cathedral was not completed in 26 years as claimed by Okudzeto Ablakwa

Claim: North Tongu Member of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, says that the Notre Dame Cathedral in France was completed in 26 years.

Verdict: False. It took more than 26 years for the Notre-Dame Cathedral to be completed.

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There are fresh criticisms of the government’s intention to build a National Cathedral, following the release of GHC 25 million as additional seed money for the project.

Despite the criticisms, the President insists that the Cathedral is a “priority of priorities” for the country.

The government has targeted commissioning the Cathedral on March 6, 2024.

But outspoken lawmaker, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, says that he does not understand the rush by the government to complete the project.

He wants the President to “hold on with the construction of the project.”

In an interview on Accra-based GhOne TV, the North Tongu MP said that the completion of Cathedrals in Europe took not less than 26 years to complete.

“The Cathedrals in Europe that the President says he’s inspired by, check, some of the fastest ones that were built, 26 years. The one that got attacked by fire in France recently that the President was among the first world leaders to issue a statement to empathize with the French people, it took them 26 years,” Mr Ablakwa said.

Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa making the claim on GHOne TV.

The interview was live-streamed and the claim can be found between minutes 26:38 and 27:20.

In April 2019, a major fire engulfed the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, destroying parts of the 850-year-old Gothic building.

Following the incident, some world leaders including President Akufo-Addo paid tribute to the people of France. 


In 1991, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization inscribed the Notre Dame Cathedral on the World Heritage List as part of the Paris, Banks of the Seine World Heritage site.

In a publication on the UNESCO website a year after the fire incident, it was indicated that the “construction of the church began in 1160 and continued for a century.”

A publication by German public, state-owned international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW) also stated that the Cathedral was built from 1163 to 1345, suggesting that it took over a hundred years for the project to be completed. 

The 1163 start date quoted by the DW publication corresponds with a brief history of the project on the church’s website.

Another publication by the British Broadcasting Corporation also indicates that the construction of the building began in 1163, adding that the “construction wasn’t completed until 1345.” 

Publications on nytimes.com and thestatesman.com also indicate that the construction began in 1163 and was completed in 1345.

A visual art and cultural heritage website, www.getty.edu, also gives a brief history of the project.

“Foundation stone was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163; the high altar was consecrated in 1189. By 1250, the choir, western facade, and the nave were completed. By the mid-14th century, porches, chapels, and other elements were added. Neo-Gothic enhancements were added in the 19th century, including a spire over the transept.”

The information from Getty.edu corresponds with what is available on britannica.com, an online encyclopedia. 


The MP may have been right in his argument that Cathedrals take a long time to build, but it is not true that the Notre-Dame Cathedral was completed within 26 years. Relying on information from various credible sources, including UNESCO, the construction of the project lasted for about a century.

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