Saturday, October 19, 2013

35. Basilique du Sacré-Cœur


One of my first impressions of historical Paris was looking out my apartment window and seeing the white roof tops of the grand Basilique du Sacré-Cœur just a few blocks away.

from my window ...

at the very top of my steep street - there it sits in its Godly whiteness ...
 
... just a few steps to climb ...
 
... then a few more steps to climb - almost there ...
 
... did I mention the steps ...
 
 Basilique du Sacre-Coeur

  

It is a truly beautiful building – both inside and outside – perched atop of the “Mountain of Martyrs”. A relatively new building, the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, was erected at the end of the 19th century and the church was finally consecrated in 1919.
 

The dome is 85m high and from it you can see for over 50kms into the distance. Access to the dome is via 300 steps !!! – having walked up probably the same number at least just to get to the church, I wasn’t tempted to go further. From the forecourt the entire city of Paris is laid out like a crazy jigsaw puzzle 200m below … quite a spectacular view.
 
 
 

The Basilica is a fully operational parish church, and even while the throng of tourists were milling around the inside – chatting and flashing cameras and with a total disregard for what was going on – a priest was conducting a mass for the faithful.
 
 
 
There are security guards throughout the church and photography was discouraged, so my few interior shots were taken while the guards were distracted elsewhere. I did feel a bit guilty, but this place is a photographer’s dream.
 
 
 
 

Around the inside walls are vending machines for votive candles and special visitor medallions – all in sharp contrast to the women beggars on the outside steps !!!  - pleading with the tourists for a coin. It wasn’t a hard decision as to whom to allocate my donation. 

one of the many Paris queues - I told you to go before we left home !! ...

At the bottom of the stairs leading up to the Basilica was an extraordinary mix of touts, pickpockets, vendors selling replicas of the Eiffel Tower, homeless men sleeping on the steps - all amongst the hordes of tourists and all guarded over by French soldiers with their rifles drawn at the ready !!!


the touts annoying unsuspecting tourists
 
And then there was the sea of more and more tourists winding their way up through the streets towards God’s White House atop the hill …

... are we there yet ???

... and more comin up the hill ...
 
prime real estate on the streets of Montmartre - I could live there

In spite of the raw massed humanity, visiting the Basilica is truly a most beautiful experience.

 
Hope I can find some place less crowded to take you tomorrow ...