Set upon the highest point in Paris, Monmarte is home to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart). Sacré-Cœur was built in the 19th century however is still a highly active Roman Catholic church. Being a prominent landmark, Sacré-Cœur - let alone the artistic haven, Monmarte - adds to the tremendous diversity seen in the architectural elements of Paris. Devout Parisian Catholics pay weekly homages to Sacré-Cœur, however it also is a point of pilgrimage to many people around the world. Its nationalistic references, including France's national saints as well as the province of Savoy. This basilica is a place of worship, but also is worshiped by architects and Parisians - for bringing such radiant beauty to the City of Light, Paris.
The Basilique du Sacré-Cœur was designed by Paul Abadie in a Romanesque-Byzantine architectural style in 1873. According to Holly Hayes of Sacred Destinations, "The Sacré-Coeur was inspired by St-Front in Perigueux (Dordogne), a multi-domed Romanesque church the architect had recently restored. The triple-arched portico is surmounted by two bronze equestrian statues of France's national saints, Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX, designed by Hippolyte Lefebvre. Even the great bell, the Savoyarde, has nationalist references: Savoy was annexed to France in 1860. Cast in Annecy in 1895, it is one of the world's heaviest bells at 19 tons."
Despite its outward radiating appearance, the main portal has grand bronze doors with foliage designs which leads into a dim and rather gloomy sanctuary with heavy and almost overly ornate details. The stylized golden mosaics glowing from apse however remind us that this isn't just any basilica, it is the Sacré-Cœur. The floor plan is a typical basilica layout with an equal-armed Greek cross and a large dome (83m high) over the crossing. A notable aspect of the sanctuary, despite the heavenly atmosphere already created, a huge choir loft with 11 tall round arches support a looming barrel vault. In the choir is a large mosaic of Christ with a flaming heart, flanked by the Archangel Michael and Joan of Arc on the right and Louis XVI and his family on the left.
Sacré-Cœur is an extrordinairy architectural feat. It is a massive building that has managed to keep its beaming white color even in the polluted air of a big city like Paris. This radiancy can be attributed to the Château-Landon stones which were used for the construction of the basilica. These stones act like a bleaching agent when it rains, as it seems they react to the water and secrete calcite.