MONTMARTRE, Sacre Coeur

Audio File length: 2.17
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

As you've definitely noticed when easily distinguishing its dome from even far distances in the city, the Sacre-Coeur Basilica is one of the tallest buildings in the city (obviously after the Eiffel Tower), and offers a privileged view of Paris.

As you climb up the long staircase you'll be just below the façade: above the three-arch arcade you can see the statues of Joan of Arc and King Louis IX, The Saint. The basilica was built as a sort of ex-voto by the French Catholics after the humiliating defeat suffered in the war against Prussia in 1870, but construction work on it ended only after the First World War.

Its style should have been Romanesque-Byzantine, however, the project was greatly modified during the works. The bell tower is 84 meters high, and from its top the famous large bell is chimed, which is called "Savoiarda" in an explicit reference to the Savoy annexation in 1895. Can you imagine, it took 34 horses to put it in place!

Now go beneath the portico and enter the church. As you can see, the interior has a central Greek-cross layout, with the large dome at the center. I'd especially like to point out the mosaic on the vault behind the altar depicting Maiestas Domini, or the "Majesty of the Lord". Don't miss the chance to go up the spiral staircase all the way to the top, where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the City of Lights. However, keep in mind that you need to pay for an extra ticket to go up there, which also gives you access to the crypt. There's also a glass gallery that lets you see the inside of the church from above.

After visiting the large, rather bare crypt lined with chapels, go back out and take the stairs in the direction of Paris' historic center.

 

FUN FACT: the basilica was built with a special limestone from Château-Landon, which has the extraordinary characteristic of not retaining dust or smog. Even more impressive, when it rains and the stone comes in contact with water, it produces a substance called calcine: the more it rains, the whiter the basilica gets!

And with this we have finished our tour of the Montmartre district and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

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