Sacré-Coeur Basilica, an expiatory church

The history of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica is quite unusual.

Sacre-Coeur Basilica - Detail Byzantine architecture
Detail Byzantine architecture

One of the most visited sites of Paris, it is above all an expiatory church!

The Franco Prussian War and the Commune de Paris, the civil war it triggered in 1871, were indeed at the origin of its construction.

Some politicians of the time indeed suggested the construction of a basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to erase the memory of these tragic events.

They also suggested that it should stand on the hill of Montmartre, where it could be seen from every Parisian district.

In 1873, the National Assembly ruled its construction by decree, and work began in 1875 under the supervision of the architects Paul Abadie, Bossan and Espérandieu.

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica was completed in 1912 and consecrated in 1919.

Sacré-Coeur Basilica’s Byzantine architecture

The church strikes by its unusual Byzantine architecture, size and unique location.

Sacre-Coeur Mosaic in apse
Mosaic in apse

Its imposing white silhouette, cupolas and 80m high central dome topped with an elegant bell tower face the south districts of Paris.

One of the bells, La Savoyarde, was cast in Annecy in 1895 and was a gift from the Diocese of Savoie.

It weighs 19 tons and is one of the heaviest bells in the world.

The basilica’s interior decoration boasts a stunning Virgin Mary with Child (1886) by the sculptor Brunet and superb Byzantine-inspired mosaics.

The most impressive, Devotion of France to the Sacred Heart by the painter Luc-Olivier Merson, adorns the vaulted chancel.

N.B. Free admission but no indoor photo

Directions: 18th District
Metro: Anvers on Line 2
Coordinates: Lat 48.886705 – Long 2.343104

Discover more on Montmartre

Montmartre Village Place du TertrePetit Cimetiere du CalvaireSaint-Pierre-de-Montmartre ChurchSaint-Jean-de-Montmartre ChurchMontmartre Abbey Sanctum Martyrium CryptMontmartre Cemetery Saint-Vincent CemeteryLe Passe Muraille sculptureMur des Je t’AimeAbbesses Art Nouveau Metro station – Bateau LavoirMontmartre grape harvest festival

Photos via Wikimedia Commons: Apse and mosaic

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