NileGuide Expert Says:
Sacre-Coeur is the high point of any visit to Montmartre
35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, Paris, France
01 53 41 89 00
NileGuide Expert tip:
The terrace in front of the basilica swarms with street-vendors, watch your wallet while enjoying the romantic view
Designed by Paul Abadie, the Roman-Byzantine basilica of Sacré-Coeur was built as a mark of national reconciliation after France's defeat by the Prussians in 1870 and today is one of the top ten sights in Paris. Funds were raised by public subscription (donors' names are inscribed on the interior walls) and work started in 1875, but it was not inaugurated until 1919. The basilica's white travertine domes and belltowers standing 83m (272ft) high on top of Montmartre are visible from all over Paris and, despite its popularity with tourists, it is loathed by many Parisians, who say it is ugly. If you climb up the 55m (180ft) high and 16m (52ft) wide dome, you reach the second-highest point in Paris. From here the view can stretch for 50km (31 miles) around the city. For most, the panorama from the terrace in front of the basilica is good enough. The golden mosaic interior glitters in the light of the many candles lit by pilgrims who come to worship in silence. Outside, at the right-hand side of the building, is the entrance to the crypt, which contains a relic said to be the Sacred Heart (Sacré-Coeur) of Christ himself.