This Roman-Catholic basilica is by many perceived to be an old basilica, much in the same way as the Notre Dame de Paris, but this is not the case. The basilica was rather young, considering it built in the late 19th-and early 20th century.
It, constructed to honor the 58.000 who lost their lives in the Franco-Prussian War, a war that France lost disastrously.
It, built to inspire faith in the French people who struggled during what was a very trying era, not only with the defeat in the war but also with the turbulent time in Paris after the defeat with the rule of the Paris Commune.
The Paris Commune was a workers party who ruled Paris for two months in 1871. It didn’t take too long before conflicts and fighting began with ultra-Catholics and royalists, backed up by the French army.
The Commune had lost the bloody battles, the archbishop of Paris ordered to build the basilica as a way to “expiate the crimes of the communards”.
It caused of course much controversy, as both sides in the fighting had committed horrible crimes. One Parisian called it “a lunatic’s confectionery dream” and an offended Zola declared it “the basilica of the ridiculous.
Some interesting facts about Montmartre
“Montmartre had been the site of the Commune’s first rebellion and the hill a religious site for a long time, so the place for the new basilica was prominent.
Even though the basilica has a somewhat troublesome history, it is today loved and adored by almost all Parisians.
The architect of this beautiful piece was Paul Abadie, who won the architect competition after beating the other 77 architects.
You can see by looking at the basilica, and its architectural style is very different as compared to other churches in Paris.
Instead of being a Neo-classical or a Gothic church like Notre Dame de Paris, the Sacré-Cœur inspired by eastern Byzantine architecture. The most obvious sign of this is the fact three big domes dominate the basilica.
Under the watchful eye of development began, an open law utility passed to hold onto land at the highest point of Montmartre. The establishment stone laid In 1875.
The passing of a law to seize the ground further caused controversy to the construction project, and the matter finally reached the Chamber of Deputies where the law was rescinded.
By this stage construction of basilica had come such a long way that it was allowed to be finished. The architect Abadie never got to see the basilica finished, as he died not long after the foundation stone had been laid.
Five other architects carried on with his plans. The basilica stood finished 1914, 39 years after the start of the construction. However, due to the interference of the First World War, the basilica formally dedicated later in 1919.
The total construction cost, estimated at 7 million French francs and raised to a large degree by private donations, both from rich and poor.
A large part of the money came from visitors and pilgrims, who visited the provisional chapel and the construction site.
The basilica itself is white. The Sacré-Cœur, made of travertine stone quarried in Château-Landon. This stone-safe stone continually radiates calcite, which guarantees that the basilica stays white even with enduring and contamination.
Even though the building style was not regularly French at that point. The Sacré-Cœurhas many structure components which represent patriot subjects.
If you stand in front of the church and look towards the entrance, you will have the French national saint Joan de Arc to your right, and King Saint-Louis IX to you left.
Between and above the two bronze statues, you will see a statue of Jesus, welcoming you into the basilica. Below Jesus, you can read the Latin phrase; “Cor Jesu Sacratissimum” which translates to “The Sacred Heart of Jesus”.
In French, Sacré-Cœur means just that, “Sacred Heart’‘. The Sacred Heart is a symbol of the love Jesus Has for all of humanity.
While the outside of the basilica is beautiful, the same is true inside. The inside is open to the public, just make sure you have dressed somewhat appropriately.
The most prominent part of the inside is the mosaic in the apse, entitled “Christ in Majesty”. The mosaic is genuinely majestic, being the largest one in the world.
It pictures The Sacred Heart of Jesus, worshipped by the Virgin Mary, Joan de Arcand St. Michael the Archangel.
The basilica can also boast about having one of the most massive free-swinging bells in the world, as its bell “Savoyarde”, weighs an impressive 19 tons.
Many people do not know that it is also possible to climb the main dome of the basilica. On the same side as the King Saint Louis IX statue, the left side of the basilica, you will find the entrance to the crypt and a staircase to the top.
While the 300 steps are tough to make, it will give you a magnificent view over Paris. Many say it’s the second-best view possible in Paris. On a clear day, you can see as far as 48km. I highly recommend that you make an effort and visit the top.