The Sacré-Coeur Basilica is a white domed Roman Catholic Church that is a landmark found in Paris. The term Sacré-Coeur Basilica means the “Basilica of the Sacred Heart.” The Basilica crowns one of the highest hills in Paris on the butte of Montmartre offering one of the best views of the city. Many people come to Sacré-Coeur Basilica to admire the exceptional view of the city from a height of 271 feet above the ground. In fact, this is the second highest point in the city after the Eiffel Tower. The basilica is in the shape of a Greek cross, with its crypt being made in the Romano-Byzantine style.
History of the Basilica
The site of this 19th century basilica can be attributed to the location of the beheading of Saint Denis who was a city patron in the 3rd century. Legend has it that the Saint was martyred, after which the Bishop carried his head many miles to the north to the current suburbs of Saint Denis. Later in 1870, France was defeated by the Prussians in the war of Franco-Prussian. This led to the Commune of 1871 that resulted in the planning of the Basilica.
The church was devoted to a religious order named The Scared Heart of Jesus which became popular after 1873. Later in the 1875 the foundation of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica was laid down. Its consecration took place in 1891 and it was fully completed in 1914. After the end of World War I in 1919, the church was elevated to a status of basilica.
What to See
The iconography of Sacré-Coeur Basilica is distinctively nationalistic with a common history and architecture with Notre-Dame de Fourviere basilica found in Lyon. The church was designed into a multi-dome structure by Paul Abadie. It has a triple-arched portico which is transcended by two equine statues of the French national saints King Saint Luois IX and Joan of Arc. The statues were designed by Hippolyte Lefebvre.
Also in the Sacré-Coeur Basilica is the Savoyade which is the world’s heaviest bell, weighing 19 tons. The main entrance of the basilica is made of bronze doors designed to look like foliage. The rest of the building is built of Chateau-London stone which is frost resistant and bleaches with age to have a shiny white appearance. The inside of the basilica is dark apart from the golden mosaics which glow from apse. The floor plan is that of a Greek cross and the ceiling has a large dome measuring 83 meters high. In the large choir loft there are 11 tall round arcs that support the barrel vault. Visitors looking to get a clear view of the city of Paris should take a trip up to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.