Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre Church
Even though most people think of the Sacre Coeur Basilica when visiting the Montmartre area of Paris, this hill is also home to one of the oldest churches in Paris called the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre which was constructed way back in the 1100s.
About the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre Church
The Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre basically translates to the Church of Saint Peter of Montmartre and is one of the oldest churches in Paris that according to the history of Paris it was built on the site of an original Roman temple that was founded by Saint Denis in the 3rd century.
This Roman temple was dedicated to Mars, which is where the Montmartre hill gets its name, as the Latin is Mons Martis, but this was destroyed and there are very few remains to be found from this era.
Yet a Merovingian church was built on the same site in the 7th century and soon became a place for pilgrims to stop at on their way to Saint Denis Basilica, which then became the preferred burial place for French Kings and today has now become one of the major tourist attractions in Paris.
However, King Louis VI purchased this in 1133 in order to establish a Benedictine Abbey, which meant that the Merovingian church was completely rebuilt, and then named the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmarte, it was re-consecrated in 1147 by Pope Eugenius III with a royal ceremony attended by King Louis VII.
In fact, the nunnery at the Benedictine Abbey was founded by Adelaide de Savioe, who was the mother of King Louis VII, and the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre was part of this convent that took up a large part of the Montmartre hill at the top. Yet unfortunately, a large part of this was destroyed by fire in the 1500s and by the start of the 1600s a new abbey was constructed further down the hill, when it was decided to restore the Martyrium, yet it was still connected to the original abbey.
Yet during the French Revolution, the nuns were massacred and the last abbess was guillotined in 1794 and nothing remains of this convent today, however, the church is still standing, but did have to be reconstructed.
And even though you can get to see some of the original church, the amount it has been changed and altered over the years, it almost seems a complete mix of many different styles and after the Sacre Coeur Basilica was constructed much interest in this church was lost until very recently.
What you can see at the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre
The church was built on a traditional Latin cross plan with three aisles and a transept, yet the choir has one of the earliest ribbed vaults in Paris that dates from its original construction back in the 1100s.
Now the nave itself is Romanesque, yet is covered with a 15th century vault and is flanked by the north aisle that was added in 1765 and the south aisle that was added in 1838.
Plus there are marble columns in the nave that are of Roman origin and marble columns originally came from the church constructed in the 7th century, with one of these located within the north aisle, two are against the west wall and the fourth is located at the entrance to the apse.
The sculpted metal doors were once part of the Benedictine abbey, yet the facade dates from the 17th century, however, there have been some far more recent renovations including the modern stained glass windows of the apse and aisles that were designed in 1953 by M Ingrand.
The enamel plaques depicting various views of the Butte Montmartre that adorn the side of the high alter were only created in 1977 and the bronze western doors that depict Saint Peter, Saint Dominique and the Virgin Mary were made by the Italian T Gismondi and only date from 1980.
However, behind the altar by the north aisle you can also get to see the sepulchre or tomb of Adelaide de Savioe, who was the original founder of the Benedictine Abbey and convent, and also mother to King Louis VII.
Access to Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre
Located in the 18th Arrondissement at the top of Butte Montmartre hill, the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre Church is situated just behind the Sacre Coeur Basilica on the western side close to the Cimitiere du Calviere and the Willette square where musicians often play.
Yet it is also close to the Place du Tertre, which is one of the famous squares in Paris where you can see artists selling their works or have your own portrait done as a souvenir of your holiday in Paris.
When it comes to getting to the Church of Saint Peter of Montmartre via the public transport in Paris, the nearest Metro stations are either the Abbesses stop on line 12 or the Anvers stop serving line 2. However, if you go to the Anvers stop, this means that you will have to negotiate the mass amount of steps of the Montmartre hill or utilise the Funicular, which is the cable car that will help you avoid the steps, just leaving a bit of a hill to negotiate.
Yet the other alternative is the Montmartrobus, which are the smaller buses that purely run in this area of Paris, so that they can negotiate the narrow and often winding or steep streets.
Now the church is open every day and is accessible to the disabled, although we would like to point out that the old cemetery next to the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre is closed all year except for on All Saints Day, yet you can get to see a glimpse of the cemetery through the ornate metal door in the courtyard.