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Sacré-Cœur: Hidden Secrets

Atop the Montmartre in Paris, the district known for exuberance, temptation, and festivity, sits an icon of pure white: Sacré-Cœur. It stands out on the horizon, visible from almost every corner of Paris; the second tallest monument built at the turn of the 20th century. The voice that rings from this pinnacle in Paris can be heard from miles around. Rich with history, there’s much to uncover about Sacré-Cœur and experience when visiting the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ’ in the city of love.

The first thing you’ll notice about Sacré-Cœur is the stark white façade. Even after a century with all the pollution of the sprawling metropolis that is Paris, the stone is still a pure white. That’s due to the calcite rich stone utilized for its construction. Every time it rains in Paris the Cathedral get’s a much needed bleach bath and continues to shine as a beacon of penance. Built after the war with Germany which started in 1870, the French made a vow that if Paris was spared they would build this monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. It was generally believed that France lost this war because of spiritual and moral reasons, not because of politics or strategy. Construction started shortly after the war in 1875 and was ready for Consecration in 1914, but again war took the reigns in France. Upon consecration in 1919 the Cathedral was given the title of Basilica and thus anointed as a place of pilgrimage for Christians and sees the second highest amount of tourists per year of any other Cathedral in France (just shy of Notre Dame). So when you’re stepping to the white edifice atop Montmartre with hundreds of others, feel the radiant purity of Sacré-Cœur and remember it’s origins! Not many will be as knowledgable.

Once you’ve arrived you have to make several pit stops and find little mysteries in the catacombs. The journey will pass you by old love notes and poems scrawled upon the walls. Or gander at the most well known bell in the world: ‘La Savoyarde,’ a 19 ton, 3 meter wide bell that echoes across Paris for over 10 km. This bell was forged in1891 and donated in 1895 by the four Diocese of Savoie and stands so everyone in Paris can see as it sings to them. Perhaps you’ll hear it’s call while standing next to it on the Terrace of the Basilica. Once you’ve taken in the views from there, take the last 300 steps to the Dome for even more spectacular views of Paris. Then rest in the great halls and let your eyes wander over the mosaic ceilings and stained glass windows, taking in the astonishing craftsmanship of one of last great Cathedrals built in Europe.

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