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Paris - Ile De France

La Madeleine Church - Greek temple Paris

This page was updated on: Friday, January 12, 2018 at: 6:05 pm

Chapelle Sainte Madeleine

La Madeleine Church faces the prestigious Rue Royale.

The imposing neo-Classical building replaces the modest Chapelle Sainte-Madeleine.

This chapel served La Couture-L''Evêque and Ville-l'Evêque, two villages that developed on land belonging to the Diocese of Paris.

They were, along with Monceau, Villiers and Courcelles, the only communities found west of the Louvre until the 18th century!

The construction of La Madeleine Church began in the 1760s.

The works were obviously interrupted during the French Revolution, however, resumed in 1806 at the initiative of Napoleon I.

La Madeleine Church, dedicated to Napoleon's Great Army

However, the emperor didn't want to build an 'ordinary' church!

He wanted to erect a majestic temple dedicated to the glory of his Grande Armée!

Sadly, his 'temple' was not completed when he abdicated in 1814.

Louis XVIII completed the building in 1842 and converted it into a church!

However, he didn't amend Napoleon's initial plans.

La Madeleine Church therefore has no belfry nor cross, as it initially had no religious purpose!

La Madeleine Church, a Greek Temple

La Madeleine is a replica of the Greek temple Maison Carrée in Nimes with a twist.

Fifty-two Corinthian columns indeed frame it; the facade's pediment, however, represents the Last Judgment by the sculptor Lemaire!

An impressive staircase ascends to a vast entrance portico topped by a gigantic cross (added at a later date!)

Two massive solid bronze doors adorned with low reliefs depicting the Ten Commandments lead into the building.

Both the interior architecture and decoration are Romanesque.

Three domes supported by Corinthian columns cap the nave.

And as this is a temple, there are no transept, no aisles and no steeple!

Pradier, Rude, Etex, Duret and Bosio created the many sculptures placed all over the church.

These sculptors also worked on the Arc de Triomphe and Arc du Carrousel, two triumphal arches also commissioned by Napoleon.

An impressive sculptural group, representing St-Mary-Magdalene ascending to Heaven by Marochetti, tops the main altar.

Jules-Claude Ziegler painted the fresco, The History of Christianity that adorns the half dome above it.

Amazingly, Emperor Napoleon I served as model for one the characters!

La Madeleine Church is quite anachronistic.

However, it still blends with the architecture of the surroundings buildings and even enhances them!

Directions: 8th District - Place de la Madeleine
Metro: Madeleine on Lines 8, 12
Coordinates La Madeleine Church: Lat 48.869808 - Long 2.324456

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