On the summit of Montmartre’s hilltop, lies another great French landmark, the magnificent Sacre-Coeur Basilica. It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places to visit in Paris to this day with its unique characteristics of Roman-Byzantine architecture that lie in contrast with all the other 19th century structures in the city.
The Sacre-Coeur was built between 1875 and 1914 on the summit of Montmartre’s hilltop, the site where the first ever Christian chapel was built in 270 AD. It was built for two reasons, the first being that there was a national vow taken that if Paris made it through the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871) unscathed, a new church would be built, this was further justified by France believing that when they were defeated by the Prussian army they were being morally condemned for their sins which would naturally require forgiveness. The basilica was named the Sacre-Coeur as it means ‘sacred heart’ which makes reference to the heart of Jesus.
The Sacre-Coeur is a brilliant white chalky color, it gets the tone from the stones quarried from Chateau-Landon and has managed to remain brilliant as when it gets wet it secretes a substance called calcite which essentially bleaches the stone, which means it basically cleans itself! It stands 83 meters tall and has an exquisite viewing point of Paris from its dome. The campanile, which is an Italian, free-standing clock tower, of Sacre-Coeur is home to the largest bell in France. It is called “La Savoyarde” and weighs a crazy 18 835 kilograms with a 3-meter diameter. When rung “La Savoyarde” can be heard ten kilometers away.
TIMES AND PRICES
The Sacre-Coeur basilica is the second most visited church in the whole of France after Le Cathédrale de Notre-Dame with over 11.5 million people visiting it annually. Basic entrance into the basilica is free to all but if you wish to venture into the dome or the crypt there is an entrance charge. For a combined ticket to both, it costs 8€ for an adult (over 16 years) and 5€ for a child (4-16 years). To just view the crypt it costs 3€ for an adult and 2€ for a child, and if you wish to just view the dome it costs 6€ for an adult and 4€ for a child. Any children under the age of four years enter for free. The Sacre-Coeur basilica is open every day, from 6 am until 10:30 pm whilst the dome is open from 8:30 am until 8 pm in the summer and in the winter is open from 9 am until 5 pm. Traveling to the Sacre-Coeur can be quite an adventure, with only a fifteen-minute train ride from Paris to Montmartre, from there you can choose whether you want to walk or commute up to the monumental masterpiece. There is the option of the funicular railway or the bus that commutes up the hill otherwise many people take the journey on foot as a sort of pilgrimage, it is also advantageous if you wish to see any other sites on the way.