The white domes of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart soar over the charming Montmartre district, a favourite haunt of artists and poets, lovers of beauty and Parisian savoir vivre. The charm of this place is therefore not only in the perfect harmonies of curves and columns, but also in the religious and other significance that Parisians and all lovers of the Ville Lumière attribute to the building.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris, breathtaking interior and exterior
Begun in 1875, the construction of this place of worship was intended to follow Romanesque-Byzantine canons. The years that elapsed from the approval of the project to its completion in 1920, however, meant that numerous artistic inspirations mingled in this candid construction.
Looking at it from below is dazzling: the four domes of Byzantine origin and the slender Gothic columns create a perfect harmony of pure whiteness. And perhaps it is precisely this white splendour that makes it so fascinating for all visitors to Paris. The apparent simplicity of white, however, should not mislead: once you cross the threshold, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart inside reveals a colourful hymn to life, both earthly and spiritual.
Although obviously a place of Christian worship, standing on the very spot where St Dionysius is said to have been martyred by beheading, this Parisian monument also tells the story of a city, a country and the whole of Europe. Its inauguration in 1919, at the end of the First World War, made it a symbol of hope for a better humanity.
Mysteries and curiosities
Like all symbolic places of a city, for Paris the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is not just a church nor just a monument. Inside, stories and mysteries have been told, starting right from its construction. The place on which it stands has been linked to pagan cults since long before the birth of the Christian religion, for which it has become a particularly cherished site thanks to the sanctification of Saint Dionysius and the legend linked to this figure of Christianity.
The first bishop of Paris, the Saint is the patron saint of the city and it is said that, at the time of his beheading, he took his severed head and made a pilgrimage carrying it in his hands. It is no coincidence that this place, today, is known as ‘the mountain of martyrs’. There were many private citizens of Paris who wanted a cathedral on the hill of Montmartre to rival Notre Dame in grandeur and beauty. Their names are still engraved on the walls of the church.
The exterior of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart also hides a secret… under the sunlight. It is the very special white stone it is made of: it is a material that releases ‘calcine’ when it comes into contact with water. That is why the magic of the rain in Paris makes this church shine even more, and that is why its charm increases over the years instead of diminishing.
Wearing a jewel with the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris
The sinuous and perfect forms of the church in Montmartre tell the story of the eternal beauty of Paris, with the suggestions of different historical and artistic periods intersecting perfectly and making the Basilica itself a jewel. Turning its dome into a line of bijoux was almost inevitable.
Wearing a necklace, ring or earring inspired by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris means carrying a small piece of art history, an important reminder of human history and also, why not, the dream that the French capital evokes in every heart. Sinuous shapes and precious stones sparkle with every movement of the charms, reminding the wearer that Paris is always a good idea.
How can one fail to bring to mind the poems, novels and films that this extraordinary city has inspired? And above all, that unique neighbourhood that saw the penniless artists of the Belle Époque and the romantic and revolutionary ideals of the Bohemian movement come together, right up to the travellers of today, who arrive at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris on foot or by cable car to admire the most romantic city in the world from above.
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