Basilique Sacre Coeur is a revered landmark in Paris, France. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart marks the city's highest point, on top of the hill of Montmartre. And from that lofty mount, it serves as a very visible reminder of Christian traditions.
The basilica is an immense example of the Roman-Byzantine style. It has soaring dome towers - 83 meters tall! It is built with Château-Landon stones that naturally maintains its white color as it bleaches with age.
Mind you, the Basilica has been met with mixed reviews. With the basilica, it's either you love it, or you hate it. But, its ability to elicit strong emotions means that it is an architectural landmark. It has been called the 'Basilica of the ridiculous', but it is also well-loved by others.
The gallery around the inner dome is also something to behold. Its interiors are adorned with colorful mosaics, like the mural featuring the Passion of the Christ. The mosaic of Christ with a flaming heart and his outstretched arms is among the largest mosaics in the world. It also features images of Joan of Arc, the Archangel Michael, Louis XVI, as well as his family. The golden mosaics also glow in the dimly lit interiors. These mosaics were created by Luc-Olivier Merson. There are also some marble sculptures and stained glass windows that complete the interiors. The stained glass windows were destroyed, but these were restored in 1946.
The construction continued until World War I and was completed in 1910, but it was only in 1919 when the basilica was consecrated. Thus, it is not very old, in terms of other buildings in the area, but it still is fascinating.
It was designed by the architect Paul Abadie and features an intriguing mix of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture. The basilica is 100 meters long and 50 meters wide, with an 83-meter dome. The bell tower holds a gigantic 18.5-ton bell (complete with a clapper weighing 850 kilograms!). This bell is named the Savoyarde Bell and was cast in 1895.
The front has a portico with three arches that are surmounted with two statues. The statues are that of King Saint Louis IX and Joan of Arc, both riding their horses.
Its history is similarly fascinating. In 1873, some of the most influential families in France campaigned for it to be erected. They felt that they had to appease and make amends because of all the violence and bloodshed during the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. This was especially felt after a profound loss in the hands of the Germans. People from all classes, rich or poor, contributed to the funds used for building the basilica. The basilica also served as a memorial to the lives lost during the Franco-Prussian War.
The mount on which it is built is called the Mount of Martyrs, which marks the martyrdom of the first bishop of Paris, Saint Denis. A Benedictine abbey used to stand at the site where the basilica is now.
The view from the top of the lofty towers is simply magnificent. Likewise, because of the basilica's position, you can see it as far as 50 kilometers from any point. The sight is simply enthralling.