The Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart) Basilica is the 2nd-highest structure in Paris –  after the Eiffel Tower, of course. The all-white structure sits on top of Montmartre, so you can easily see it from many places in the city. The Roman-Byzantine architecture is unusual for Paris, with its impressive 91-metre-tall dome beautifully contrasting with the rest of the city.

You can easily spend half a day exploring the basilica and its surroundings. From the steps of the church, you can contemplate a breathtaking view of the French capital's famous landmarks. If you want to have a truly panoramic experience, climb the Sacré-Cœur Basilica’s dome, which is the highest in Paris.

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a religious building that's open to the public. Inside, you can discover amazing features like the largest mosaic in France, stained-glass windows, and one of Europe's most remarkable pipe organs.

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A brief history of Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Since ancient times, the Montmartre (meaning ‘Mount Martyr’) hill was a place of worship. Before the hill became one of the main sites for Christian pilgrimage, it was where the Druids and Romans built their temples. In the 12th century, a major Parisian church was erected on the hill, then destroyed during the French Revolution in 1789.

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica’s construction started following the Franco-Prussian War, which ended in 1871. Prominent Catholics saw the link between the sins the French committed during the French Revolution and this humiliating military defeat, so they decided to build a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ.

It took almost 40 years to construct the multi-domed Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which was inspired by the Byzantine churches of Turkey and Italy. It was completed in 1914 – just in time for WWI. It wasn’t consecrated until after the war, in 1919. The present-day basilica remains a place of worship in Paris, attracting Catholic pilgrims from all over the world.

What are the highlights of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica?

One of the things that make the Sacré-Cœur Basilica so unique is its remarkable whiteness. It was built with a special stone that exudes calcite when wet, making the façade sparklingly white on rainy days, as if it was covered with a fresh layer of paint.

The interior of Sacré-Cœur Basilica is just as impressive. Take your time to admire the 480-square-metre mosaic illustrating Christ with a golden heart – it’s the biggest mosaic in France. You can also see stained-glass windows, which were restored after WWII, as well as its famous grand pipe organ. Don’t miss the crypt of Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which has notable items such as a big statue of St. Denis, the saint patron of Paris, as well as the basilica’s foundation stone and impressive religious paintings.

Good to know about the Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Since Sacré-Cœur Basilica is on the summit of Montmartre, you can either climb the long and impressive 270-step stairways or take an automatic funicular railroad from the foot of the hill. It takes 1.5 minutes to reach the top, costs just 1 regular metro ticket. However, if you wish to access the top of the dome, you’ll need to climb 300 steps. Access to the dome is outside the basilica, on the left.

Entry to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is free, but you'll need to pay a small fee to access the dome. While inside the church, please keep your voice down as people often come here to pray.

If you want to continue your exploration of the Montmartre neighbourhood, walk down its narrow alleys to discover picturesque gardens, restaurants, and even a pretty vineyard near the basilica.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris

Location: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris, France

Open: Daily from 6 am to 10.30 pm

Phone: +33 (0)1 53 41 89 00

Elmira Alieva | Contributing Writer