The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre (Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre) or more commonly – Sacré-Cœur – can be seen from nearly any place in Paris. It sits atop the Mount of Martyrs (Montmartre), the highest point in Paris. White travertine quarried in France makes the basilica shine like a light from the hilltop, beckoning the faithful, or the curious.
An Ancient History
Like all temples, it is filled with symbolism and depictions of historical figures of religious importance. Its architectural style is Romano-Byzantine. That is kind of a mishmash of influences that create an interesting whole.
After beginning the foundation in 1875, the basilica was finished in 1914 while World War I was raging. For this reason, the basilica was consecrated in 1919. The history of why the basilica was built is interesting and the cause somewhat changed over the course of its construction.
However, the site of the basilica is historically important. The official site of the basilica states, “From the dawn of time Montmartre has been a place of worship: from the Druids of ancient Gaul, through the Romans with their temples dedicated to Mars and Mercury, to the Church of Saint Peter, the oldest in Paris, rebuilt in the 12th century next to the Royal Abbey of Montmartre by Louis VI and his wife Adélaïde de Savoie…” So, it sounds like since anyone can recount, those who died for a cause, or actually the ones burying them, wanted their heroes buried as close to the sky as possible.
Wait for It
After climbing to the top, venture inside Sacré-Cœur. You will find what you would expect in an old Catholic church. There are wooden benches, stained glass, statues and side chapels. But, rather than a painting, or bare stone, on the ceiling above the alter, this ceiling is covered by one of the largest mosaics in the world. Beautiful blue and gold tiles laid to create a lovely canopy drawing you all the way into the basilica to see the beauty.
Yet, the real draw of Sacré-Cœur is the view. That is the reason for making the trek. Travel to the top of Montmartre. First, walk around the inside of Sacré-Cœur if you want. Then, after a brief visit, go onto the steps and take in the view across all of Paris. Beautiful at day or night, morning or evening, blazing hot or rainy. Here, you will find views that are truly heavenly.
What makes it special: Heavenly views across Paris.
Nearest Métro: Anvers or Abbesses, then walk to the funiculaire. If you are looking up to Sacré-Cœur, the funiculaire is to the left at the bottom of the hill. Taking the funiculaire will take one regular Metro ticket.
Address: 35, Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris
Open: Everyday from 6am to 10:30pm
Challenges: Lots of steps, especially if you do not take the funiculaire.
Special considerations: If visiting inside Sacré-Cœur, wear long pants and please keep voices to a whisper.
Dome view: Yes, if you really want, you can climb into the dome of Sacré-Cœur for a view from the tippy top.
Official website: http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/english/