Hiding in the shadows on the north side of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica is St-Pierre-de-Montmartre, one of the oldest churches in Paris. Built on the site of a Roman temple and a 7th-century Merovingian church, it was consecrated in 1147.
History of St-Pierre-De-Montmartre
This site atop Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, was originally occupied by a Roman temple dedicated to Mars. It is from this temple that the hill gets its name (Latin Mons Martis).
A church was built over the temple ruins by the Merovingians in the 7th century; a few columns used in this church still survive. The 9th-century Miracles of Saint-Denis mentions the church as a stop for pilgrims on their way to Saint-Denis Basilica.
The present church was part of a Benedictine nunnery founded by Adelaide de Savioe (d.1154), mother of King Louis VII, in 1134. It was consecrated in a lavish ceremony attended by the king, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and Peter, Abbot of Cluny, in 1147.
The nunnery moved downhill to a new location in the 1680s. It was closed at the French Revolution and the last abbess was guillotined in 1794. Nothing remains of the convent buildings today.
The church of St-Pierre-de-Montmartre was significantly altered in the 17th to 19th centuries, but it remains one of the oldest churches in Paris. In 1875, its importance was overshadowed when construction began on the great Basilique du Sacré-Coeur next door.
What to See at St-Pierre-De-Montmartre
St-Pierre-de-Montmartre is located on the north side of the Sacré-Coeur and excellent aerial views can be had from the latter's dome.
The church is built on a traditional Latin-cross plan, with three aisles and a transept, and is a jumble of medieval and later styles. The facade dates from the 17th century and the bronze doors from 1980 (by T. Gismondi).
Inside, the nave is Romanesque but is covered with a 15th-century vault and flanked by aisles added in 1765 (north) and c.1838 (south). The windows are filled with stained glass windows of the 20th century.
The transept and choir are also Romanesque, and the choir has one of the earliest ribbed vaults in Paris (c.1147). The apse was rebuilt in the late 12th century. Behind the altar is the tomb of Adelaide de Savioe, the nunnery's foundress and the mother of King Louis VI.
Four marble Roman columns with Merovingian capitals (7th century) can be seen in the church: two against the west wall, one at the apse entrance and one in the north aisle.
Foundations of the Roman temple were uncovered on the north side of the church. The cemetery (rarely open) contains the tomb of the circumnavigator Louis Bougainville (1729-1811) and the sculptor Pigalle (1714-85).
Next door is the Jardin du Calvaire (Calvary Garden; closed), which contains Stations of the Cross created for Richelieu.
Quick Facts on St-Pierre-De-Montmartre
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||48.886690° N, 2.341987° E|
|Address:||2 rue du Mont-Cenis|
|Lodging:||View hotels near St-Pierre-De-Montmartre|
- Delia Gray-Durant, Blue Guide Paris, 11th ed. (London: Somerset Books, 2007), 256-58.
- Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre - Planetware (Baedecker)
- St-Pierre de Montmartre - Fodor's France
- Saint Pierre de Montmartre - Wikipedia
Map of St-Pierre-De-Montmartre, Paris
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