From the Sacré-Cœur church to the Notre Dame Cathedral, in this article I list my top 5 best Cathedrals and churches in France. Not only are these places of worship architecturally stunning, they also demonstrate the importance of Christianity in medieval France.
1. Sacré-Cœur, Paris
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris (pictured above) is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris. This popular landmark is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city and is reached by a steep set of steps. In a Roman-Byzantine style, the Sacré Coeur is recognizable by its white colour. Inside the building, the ceiling is decorated with the largest mosaic in France measuring about 480 m². The crypt is also worth a visit.
Behind the Sacré-Cœur you will find the pretty cobbled streets of Montmartre, packed with galleries and cafes, and between the buildings are of course glimpses of iconic views across the Paris; from the Eiffel Tower and the Seine and over the arrondissements that make up this great city.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. This medieval Catholic Cathedral is located on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. It sits as an island, surrounded by the river Seine. In the French Revolution in the 1790s, much of of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed but during the 19th century, extensive restoration returned the Cathedral to its previous state.
3. Saint Pierre Cathedral, Beauvais
Ambitious and gravity-defying, this Cathedral boasts the record for the highest ceiling in a gothic choir in the Christendom (48.50m or 149 feet). Starting construction in 1225, the Cathedral was meant to be the greatest church in the kingdom but over the centuries construction experienced many problems and structural collapses. What exists today is impressive enough to imagine what the finished project could have been.
4. Notre Dame Cathedral, Chartres
Located in the medieval town of Chartres, about 50 miles north of Paris, this Cathedral is almost perfectly preserved in its original design and details, giving its visitors an image of what it looked like when it was built. The majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century. There are also three notable façades, each adorned with hundreds of sculpted figures illustrating key theological themes and narratives.
5. Notre Dame Cathedral, Amiens
Another Notre Dame Cathedral, this time in Amiens in the heart of Picardy. This Cathedral is the tallest gothic church and the largest Cathedral in France. It is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation and the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal facade and in the south transept. Despite heavy fighting around Amiens during World Wars I and II, the Cathedral escaped serious damage and was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1981.
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