Located in the centre of the city within the Palais de Justice complex on the Île de la Cite, the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) is a small Gothic chapel constructed in the Rayonnant style. Built by King Louis IX from 1238-1244, the chapel housed holy relics from the Passion believed to be Jesus' Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross. These items were purchased from the Byzantine emperor Baldwin II in 1239 for a huge sum of 135,000 Livres (the church cost 40,000 livres to build) due to the King's desire to elevate France as the leader of Western Christianity. The Sainte-Chapelle provides visitors with a spectacular visual experience since the entire upper tier of the chapel is surrounded by enormous stained glass windows.
Underneath the glaze of the Parisian sky, the Eiffel Tower captures the dazzling spirit of its French capital. A magnificent wrought iron lattice tower that was originally built as an entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, the tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel after his inspiration was fueled by the pyramidal form of Egypt's historic landmarks. This comparison was met with ardent disapproval from several eminent Frenchmen before the tower came to be the celebrated global icon that it is known as today. At a stunning height of 324 meters (1,063 feet), the Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline as the city's tallest, and the country's second-tallest freestanding structure. Its majestic form sports three shades – darkest at the lowest level and colored in a light contrast as the tower ambles up to the top – an illusory mechanism adopted so as to complement its surroundings. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most winning sights in all of France, and even after more than a century, people continue to extol this monumental symbol of architectural beauty.
The Louvre Museum houses one of the largest collections of artworks and antiquities in the world. The museum is located inside the Louvre Palace, which was built in the 12th Century as a fortress by Philip II. After Louis XIV, he decided to move his court to Versailles, the palace was occupied by a variety of institutions related to the arts. The museum was first opened under the National Assembly in 1793. The establishment is divided into sections, including drawing, painting and sculpture, and houses antiquities from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and several other cultures. Visitors to the museum can explore its many wings and see some of the most famous works like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Liberty Leading the People.
Perched elegantly on Île de la Cité, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is as arresting as it is imposing. One look at the spellbinding architectural details, both inside and out, and you'll understand why it took nearly a century to complete, beginning 1160. Two monumental towers rise from it's western facade, marking the most intricately adorned portion of the cathedral. As a bonus, visitors can climb the 380 odd steps leading to the top of the towers for arguable the best views of the Parisian cityscape. Highlight of the cathedral's interiors are most certainly, the beautifully vivid rose windows in stained glass. History enthusiasts can also check out the archaeological crypt that exhibits interesting relics found in Paris. Considered to be a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is deservedly one of the most visited of Paris' enchanting sights.
The Romano-Byzantine Sacre Coeur Basilica overlooks Montmartre, one of Paris's most picturesque districts. Its distinctive travertine stone dome rises up over the rooftops, allowing visitors to the basilica the perfect vantage point from which to survey the city. Within Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, often called Sacré-Cœur, visitors will find several interesting sites, including a mosaic of Christ, an elegant organ constructed by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, and a crypt. Commissioned by the Catholic Church, construction began in 1875 under the watchful eye of architect Paul Abadie, and was finally completed in 1914.
The Panthéon is a magnificent building that was built between 1764 and 1790, commissioned by King Louis XV and completed on the heels of the French Revolution. Not only is the building renowned for its Neoclassical architecture, but the Panthéon is also the resting place of famous individuals such as Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Marie Curie. The architecture is inspired by the Roman Pantheon, with the dome closely resembling that of the St. Paul's Cathedral in London. This is a must-visit for all visitors of Paris - not only for its grand history, but also the sheer beauty of the Panthéon.
The romantic heart of France, one that is home to countless marvels that make a traveling spirit soar, is an eternal piece of iconography that is immediately both recognizable, yet full of surprises. On the banks of the river Seine, Paris is the enchanting home of 2.2 million people who live across its twenty arrondissements. A labyrinthine expanse of inexhaustible culture, architecture and history thrives along the riverside, while indelible symbols and stalwarts of art position themselves in venerated museums and galleries. Dominating Paris' soul-stirring skyline are monumental vestiges and landmarks that feed its charm and beauty – from the deeply iconic spire of the Eiffel Tower and the butter yellow facade of the Arc de Triomphe to the mysterious allure of the Louvre, and the French Gothic splendor of the Notre Dame. Forming part of its periphery, yet sparking instant association with the city are a host of other aspects that make Paris so great in stature; it is an evolved culinary hub, an international center for fashion, a metropolis seething with great artists, and a nexus of entertainment.
Place de l'Hotel de Ville - Esplanade de la Libération was earlier known as the Place de Grève. Records show its existence as far back as the 13th Century. It was initially used for public executions and was an emblem of the medieval regime in France. Gradually over the centuries it became a meeting place for the public. Its new name is an ode to the World War II resistance. The beautiful Hôtel de Ville de Paris (City Hall) is next to this square and the Pont d'Arcole is just a few minutes away.
The Fontaine du Palmier located in the Place du Châtelet is a large circular pool topped by a column. It is decorated with bands of bronze and four statues at the bottom of the column sculpted by Louis-Simon Boizot, and the lower basin by Gabriel Davioud. Originally built to provide fresh drinking water, this fountain was considered as the largest fountain to be built during Napolean's reign. The fountain has been designated as historic monument since 1952.
Located between the 1st and 4th arrondissements of Paris, Place du Châtelet is one of the most important square of the city. It is home to several important structures and attractions, such as Théâtre du Châtelet and Théâtre de la Ville, to name a few. The square is highlighted by its centerpiece Fontaine du Palmier which celebrates the achievements of Napoleon Bonaparte. A gorgeous place to visit, Place du Châtelet should figure on every Parisian traveler's itinerary.
In 1937, the City of Paris introduced a cultural impetus to redesign the traditional look of Paris. The Stravinsky fountain is an interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s work, The Rite of Spring, by Jean Tinguely and his wife Niki de Saint Phalle. The Dadaist style fountain beside the Centre Pompidou displays the distinctive vision of the couple: his monochromatic lines acting as a contrast to her colorful and childlike symbolism.
Île de la Cité's is one of two natural islands located within the city of Paris. This island is entirely shaped by the Seine River and located in the heart of the city. Many historians believe that the first group of people, a small Gallic tribe, settled on the island in 52 BC. It has been inhabited ever since by the likes of Romans, Merovingians, and contemporary French citizens. Visitors will find some of the city's most recognizable monument on the isle, including Notre-Dame, La Place Dauphine and Sainte Chapelle, to name only a few. These structures on Île de la Cité serve as an excellent representation of the beauty and architecture for which Paris is famous.