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Best Religious Sites in Paris

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Located in the 7th arrondissement, the St Francis Xavier of the Foreign Missions Church was constructed in 1894. Its parish dates from the time when Hôtel des Invalides had just been completed, and the surrounding area was just unkempt woods. The church's facade is inspired by the Italian renaissance, and its interior rejects the Gothic style in favor of channeled columns and wide bending arcs. From time to time the church hosts choral and classical concerts.

The beautiful church of Sainte-Trinité stands as one of the city's many landmarks. Designed by Théodore Ballu, the church was built during the 1861 and 1867 and includes detailed architecture that mesmerizes all who come here. The church's bell tower stands tall at a staggering 63 meters (207 feet) and is topped by a dome. The opulence of the structure continues to its interiors which houses a Cavaillé-Coll chancel organ and grand organ. Apart from regular services conducted here for the community, the church is also the venue for many classical music and organ concerts. For art, architecture as well as music buffs, Sainte-Trinité is a must stop while in the beautiful city.

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.

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.

For connoisseurs of architecture in Paris, La Madeleine is a must visit. Pierre Constant d'Ivry began the construction of this monument in 1764, and it was completed by one of his colleagues. It was looted during the French Revolution and Napoléon I later decided to transform it into a temple in the memory of his glorious army. Eventually, this structure was instead dedicated to St. Mary Madeleine. One of Paris' most famous churches, its impressive façade is made up of 52 20-meter (65-foot) Corinthian columns, while inside its nave is magnificently crowned by three cupolas. Sculptor Charles Marochetti's marble statue the Ravissement de Sainte-Madeleine overlooks the high altar, giving it a unique splendor. Classical concerts are occasionally organized at this church.

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.

Constructed by the architect Mario Botta in 1995, the Évry Cathedral challenges accepted norms of architecture while respecting the traditional symbolism of the Catholic church. The triangular roof and three large entrances each represent the Holy Trinity while 12 stained glass windows represent the apostles, although the images depicted are abstract. Constructed of brick, the placement of windows and latticework allows natural light to penetrate the interior space. The cylindrical form of the building is reminiscent of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), designed by Botta around the same time. The similarity is extended inside the cathédrale, which holds a museum as well as artworks including a 16th-century statue of the Virgin, tapestries, and modern religious sculpture.

Built between 1679 and 1708, this religious building is commonly known as the 'soldiers' church', in honor of the great military leaders who have been laid to rest here. Its crypt contains (among others) the remains of Rouget de Lisle (who composed the Marseillaise, the French national anthem), while hanging up in its nave are flags taken from enemies during the course of numerous battles. In 1837, the great classical composer Berlioz composed his Requiem here. Memorial services often take place at the Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides. When at the Invalides, the Eglise du Dôme and the Musée de l'Armée are well worth visiting!

Orthodox Russians in the city can be traced back to the 1700s. A century later, a place of worship for the flourishing community was the need of the hour. Donations coming from Russia and France helped the construction project based on the plans of two Russian architects. The Saint Alexander Nevsky cathedral was completed and sanctified in 1861 and dedicated to Russia's great eponymous Prince. The architecture illustrates the neo-Byzantine style while the exteriors showcase the Muscovite school. Listed as a historical monument, the majestic structure is donned by painted frescoes, golden bulbs and a symbolic Greek cross.

Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés was a city on the outskirts of Paris during the Middle Ages. It functioned as a mausoleum of the Merovingian dynasty. Established in 558 CE, this abbey exhibits the remains of innumerable wars, and architectural styles spanning from the 8th to the 18th Century. The ancient city has been demolished and the church stands as a lone survivor. One must not miss the tombs of famous personalities like René Descartes, King Childebert I and King John II Casimir Vasa. Visitors can also explore multiple chapels, and a 12th-century ambulatory and chancel.

Built in 1926, Grande Mosquée de Paris is one of France's largest mosques. The decor of wooden ceilings is made from Lebanese cedar. The fountains for performing ablutions and lavish oriental rugs whisk you off into another world. The ponds and fountains, landscaped gardens, a courtyard and a 33 meter (108 foot) high minaret are the prominent features. An accompaniment of lush greenery makes this oasis all the more welcoming on a hot summer day. This fine Moroccan-style mosque has its own library and excellent restaurant and is renowned for Turkish baths. It has separate spaces for conducting religious activities and academic research. The on-site Arabic café is a wonderful place to enjoy nuts and sheesha, while admiring the fine Islamic art and architecture.

The large Saint-Louis-des-Invalides Church, famous for its magnificent dome, is a typical example of baroque architecture. Built between 1679 and 1706 during the reign of Louis XIV and for his sole use, Le Dôme des Invalides was dedicated to the glory of Napoléon in 1840 and became his final resting place. His body now lies in a red porphyry coffin. In honor of all France's armies, military trophies adorn the ceiling and the remains of heroes like Field Marshals Foch and Lyautey are buried here. Look out for its ceiling decorated by a fresco representing Saint-Louis and Christ. The church is located in the Hôtel des Invalides and its hours vary throughout the year; please call +33 8 1011 3399 or see website for more information.

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