The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, known as Sacré-Coeur, is the second most visited monument in the city. Sacré-Coeur sits on the summit of Montemarte, the highest point in the city. From here, you can see all of Paris. The view from the top of the dome is second only to the Eiffel Tower.
Sacré-Coeur was built between 1875 and 1914 by the architect Paul Abadie. Before its construction, this area had already been used as a place of worship for hundreds of years. The druids of ancient Gaul erected temples dedicated to Mercury and Mars. Later the Romans would build their own temples. The L'Eglise Saint-Pierre, was built nearby in the 12th century. It was destroyed during the French Revolution in 1789.
The Franco-Prussian War and the "Commune" Revolution in 1871 were two bloody battles between France and Germany and the Vatican. The French people built Sacré-Coeur as a symbol of penance for the violence they had caused. Unforunately this did not end the violence. Sacré-Coeur was completed in 1914, the same year World War I began.
The bell in Sacré-Coeur is called "Savoyarde". It was cast in the Alps in the commune of Quintal, near Annecy. It took 21 horses to deliver the bell to the top of the hill in 1895. It is one of the largest (3 meter diameter) and heaviest (19 tons) bells in the world. It can be heard from 10km away.
The white stone used to build the basilica is the same used for the Arc de Triomphe and the Alexandre III bridge. When the stone gets wet it releases calcite which cleans the stone and helps it keep its white color.
The two equestrian statues on the front of the basilica represnt Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis.
Tips: As you climb the path through the park up to Sacré-Coeur, you will be approached by people selling bracelets and other crafts. Some of them can be very aggressive. It is best to talk to your kids about this before you go so you, and them, can be prepared when they stop you.
Monday: 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Tuesday: 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Wednesday: 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Thursday: 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Friday: 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Saturday: 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Sunday: 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM
These hours can change. Please check the web site before making your plans.