The construction of the Church in question, Sacred Heart Basilica (Sacre-Coeur Basilica) was the responsibility of Paul Abadi, who won the competition for its construction. The church was built in direct partnership with the government of the Third Republic and was funded by France as part of a national fund. The construction was completed at the beginning of the twentieth century, but because of World War I it was not officially inaugurated until 1919.
The church's impressive dome is the second highest point in Paris. To get to its famous balcony you must climb many stairs or ride a cable car. But despite the effort, the climb is worth it.
The main hall is 100 meters long and 50 meters wide.
The entrance of the basilica is especially impressive. Above the main entrance there are two guards, two horsemen, who are religious and national symbols of France - Joan of Arc and Louis Lepre.
Inside the church, in the choir area, is a huge mosaic describing Jesus and the Sacred Heart. On his left side stand Michael and the Virgin from Orleans and on the right, King Louis the 16th and his family. The interior of the basilica is built in the shape of a Greek cross and is decorated with amazing mosaics, which are located on the roof of the apse, the semicircular niche on the eastern wall of the classical basilicas. The largest mosaic in France is located there, covering 475 square meters.
Other unique points in the church include France's largest bell and one of the largest in the world (18.5 tons). The bell is located in the square tower. The church also has a very impressive organ, which sounds great.
Despite the declaration of construction as a "public benefit" taking place in 1873, the construction itself only began three years later, and out of the 78 plans submitted to the committee, the one chosen belonged to architect Paul Abadi. The construction wasn't fast enough, was filled with problems and difficulties that caused the whole project to be delayed.
In 1919 the church was opened to the faithful, that saw it as a place of religious and patriotic identification as one.
The church is a focal point for many tourist to this day, especially in the spring and summer months. These tourists sit on the wide stairs leading to the church and use them to view the magnificent view of Paris, that opens in front of them from the hilltops.
The devout Catholic girl was hearing voices in her head since her childhood. In order to convince her that she, a villager, has been chosen by God to lead France, she came for a meeting with King Charles, went straight to his room, and in a series of quick tests proved her supernormal abilities and "her connection with God." King Charles gave her the army and in a series of brilliant battles, dressed in male clothing, she broke the blockade on the city of Orleans and brought about the surrender of the English. She conquered the city Reims and formally crowned Charles as the rightful king of France, also under the law.
The young maiden proved to be a brilliant general when she realized that the English were always victorious because of the great battles they fought. Therefore, she replaced the French army's poor war tactics with superior guerilla warfare tactics and repeatedly defeated the British with her soldiers. However, after being injured 3 times, she was captured and sent to the English. After a long trial conducted by the church she was declared guilty of witchcraft, of connections with Satan, and of other offenses.
Joan of Arc was sentenced to death by fire. Legend has it that an English soldier who was present at the execution cried in horror, "Oh the holiness we burned!"
In 1456, a couple years after the execution, a retrial was made for Joan of Arc. The verdict of the trial was a total acquittal and "Miss Orleans" became an official national heroin of France. In 1920, the Catholic Church also declared her as a saint and finally recognized the greatness of the young girl.
Because of the style of the basilica, a combination of Neo-Romanesque influences with neo-Byzantine elements, not many Parisians will say that the structure is refined and beautiful in their eyes. However, over the years the basilica became a wanted and popular sight in the French capital skyline.
If you stand in front of the church, you will see the whole center of Paris spread in front of you. On a bright day you can even notice statues and other points of interests in the city. You will probably find the Montparnasse Tower with its 56 floors, that much before its establishment, bohemian and avant-garde people would walk there in the Montparnasse district. They did so after abandoning Montmartre, in the post-World War I period.
If you agree to climb more that 230 stairs to the dome of Sacre Coeur, you get to enjoy a spectacular view. You may buy the entry tickets to the dome in the entrance to the chapel.
A staircase leads from the basilica to the bottom of the hill. You can also go down through a Funicular - a tiny cable train.