Paris - Ile De France

La Madeleine Church - Greek temple Paris

This page was updated on: Monday, December 23, 2019 at: 5:50 pm

La Madeleine Church, a monument dedicated to Napoleon's Great Army

La Madeleine Church is a superb illustration of neo-Classical architecture at its best!

However, this imposing structure that faces the prestigious Rue Royale is not an 'standard' church, but more of a monument.

Construction started began in the 1760s and spread over 85 years, because of the French Revolution and political turmoil that followed.

In 1806 Napoleon altered the floor plan to convert the building into a majestic temple dedicated to the glory of his Grande Armée!

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

King Louis XVIII completed it in 1842 and converted it into a church, however, retained Napoleon's floorplan.

As a result, La Madeleine Church has no belfry and no cross, as it initially had no religious purpose.

La Madeleine Church, a Greek Temple

La Madeleine is shaped like a Greek temple and is a replica of the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, but with quite a few twists!

Fifty-two Corinthian columns frame it, however, the main facade's pediment depicts the Last Judgment by the sculptor Lemaire.

Then an impressive flight of steps lead up to the monumental entrance portico that is topped by a gigantic cross (added at a later date though.)

Two massive solid bronze doors adorned with low reliefs depicting the Ten Commandments lead into the interior which has no transept nor ambulatory.

Three magnificent domes supported by Corinthian columns cap the nave that is adorned with a wealth of sculptures by Pradier, Rude, Etex, Duret and Bosio.

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 of the half dome above it. Amazingly, Napoleon 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

March 27 2020

Garde Republicaine, Paris’ emblematic Gendarmerie force

Garde Republicaine, Paris’ emblematic Gendarmerie force renowned for its Calvary regiment, is in charge of the security of the city and the public
Bust of the composer Lully and ex-voto in Notre Dame des Victoires Basilica

March 5 2020

Notre Dame des Victoires Basilica

Notre Dame des Victoires , a church Louis XIII dedicated to his victories over the Huguenots, but mostly to the Virgin in thanks for the birth of Louis XIV
Hotel Sale - Picasso Museum - Café à Royan - 1940 Cubism

February 19 2020

Hôtel Salé, home to the Picasso Museum

Hôtel Salé, one of the finest mansions in the Marais built with money collected from the salt tax, hence its name, is today home to the Picasso Museum
Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor with the Tuileries in the background

January 24 2020

Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor named after a Senegalese stateman

Passerelle Solférino was renamed Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Senegalese politician’s birth

Sign up to our newsletter

Travel France Online will use the information you provide on this form to keep in touch with you and to provide updates via our newsletter. By selecting the boxes on the form you confirm your acceptance to receive our newsletter.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at admin@travelfranceonline.com

We will treat your information with respect. For more information please visit our privacy policy page