Paris Tourist Attractions - Sacre Coeur

The church of Sacre Coeur presents a striking feature on the Paris city skyline. Take a view across the city from any elevated point, and in the distance you will see this famous church in its prominent location atop the Montmarte butte, the highest hilltop in Paris. From this commanding situation, the gleaming, white domes of the basilica are an imposing edifice that dominates the old area of Montmarte and is a virtual beacon that constantly makes this church one of the most visited attractions in Paris.

Sacre Coeur was built in 1875 as a government endorsed national act of atonement following France’s defeat at the hands of the Prussians in 1870 and also the civil strife of the Commune uprising. It was constructed with Chateau-Landon stone which characteristically bleaches with age, thus giving the basilica its notable white appearance.

From a nationally organized architectural competition, the winning architect, Paul Abadie, based his design on the Romano-Byzantine style. As a national project, the construction was financed by contributions from every parish in France with monies donated by both rich and poor. In its interior, the Romano-Byzantine design again features with extensively decorated golden mosaics that include depictions of Christ, the Virgin Mary, St. Joan of Arc and St Michael. Original stained glass windows were installed from 1903 to 1920 but were destroyed during the World War ll bombardments. These were later replaced in 1946. ‘Le Savoyadore’ is France’s largest bell and weighs a full 19 tons. A gift from the Savoy region, it is housed in the bell tower since 1914.

Above all else, Sacre Coeur is a place of prayer and pilgrimage. The basilica is built on the site where Saint Dennis was beheaded in the 3rd Century for his faith, and since 1885, perpetual adoration has been maintained here night and day in devotion to the Sacred Heart.

The church is conveniently reached for those that wish to avoid a steep climb by the novel expedient of a funicular tram connecting with the nearby metro station. Visits to the crypt and dome are possible for a small fee. The panoramic view of Paris from the dome is exhilarating, and on a clear day the city in its entirety displays its vastness before you as a memorable vista of Europe’s most endearing capital.

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