Basilique du Sacré-Coeur

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by paolo1899 on August 20, 2007

The white domes of the Sacred Heart Basilica patrol the Paris skyline from the top of Montmartre. The French government decided to erect Sacre Coeur in 1873 as a sort of national guilt offering in expiation for the blood shed during the Commune and the Franco-Prussian War in 1870- 71. It was meant to symbolize the return of self confidence to late 19th century Paris. Even so, the building reflected political divisions within the country: it was largely financed by French Catholics fearful of an anticlerical backlash and determined to make a grandiloquent statement on behalf of the Church.

Construction lasted until World War I; the basilica was not consecrated until 1919. In style the Sacre Coeur borrows elements from Romanesque and Byzantine architecture. Built on a grand scale, the church is strangely disjointed and unsettling; architect Paul Abadie had made his name by sticking similar scaly, pointed domes onto the medieval cathedrals of Angouleme and Perigueux in southwest France. Golden mosaics glow in the dim, echoing interior; climb to the top of the dome for the view of Paris. On clear days you can also catch grand vistas of the city from the entrance terrace and steps. Try to visit at sunrise or long after sunset, as otherwise this area is crammed with bus groups, young lovers, postcard sellers, guitar-wielding Christians, and sticky-finger types; be extra cautious with your valuables.

Basilica du Sacre Coeur
35, Rue Du Chevalier-de-la-barre Rue De La Bonne
Paris, France, 75018
+33 (1) 53 41 89 00

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