The Sacred Heart basilica is located at the top of the Montmartre hill. Built between 1875 and 1914, it was the symbol of a conservative moral order asserted over Montmartre, traditionally known for its nightlife with numerous cabarets, and which had been at the heart of the socialist uprising referred to as the “Paris commune”, in 1871. What to do in the Sacred Heart in Paris?
Admire the architecture
What to do in the Sacred Heart in Paris? My first advice would be, just look at the architecture around you. The basilica is in the shape of a Greek cross, quite unusual for a church built in the late XIXth and early XXth century. There are four coupolas, and the centre one is particularly high: 83 meters! The church was built in an eclectic style: it draws inspiration from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, with round shaped arches.
Get a glimpse of the largest mosaic in France
What to do in the Sacred Heart in Paris? Of course, you don’t want to miss seeing France’s largest mosaic. It has a surface of more than 470 m2. It is located on the apse’s ceiling and represents Jesus Christ and his sacred heart glorified by the Catholic Church and by France.
Visit the underground crypt
The entrance to the crypt is marked by two bronze doors on the west front. Those are copes of the doors of the baptistery in Florence. The crypt has a layout similar to that of the Church. In it you will find large arches, which I find very solemn because of their austere style.
Several statues and chapels can be found inside the crypt. One of the chapels is that of Saint Peter: the columns of this chapel support the apse of the basilica. Saint Theresa is known to have come here to pray in 1887. Visiting the crypt is definitely something I recommend when asked what to do in the Sacred Heart.
Climb to the top of the dome for an unforgettable view over Paris
When asked what to do in the Sacred Heart in Paris, the best advice I can give is to climb to the top of the Dome. This will give you a wonderful view over Paris. You will be at 400 meters of altitude, since Montmartre is on a hill, and you will thus be able to have a bird’s view of Paris and its landmarks.
But this is not the only advantage. As you climb up the dome, the path will take you on a balcony at the base of the center cupola, inside the basilica. This is a very good way of getting a closer view at the cupola’s ceiling, and to get another view of the inside of the Church, see from above!
If you are a Catholic, one of the things to do is of course praying
In the Sacred Heart in Paris, since August 1885, there is an uninterrupted adoration prayer taking place. This means there are people relaying themselves to pray, so that the prayer does not stop. So when a Christian asks me what to do in the Sacred Heart, I always suggest joining in this prayer, that has lasted up until today.