La Madeleine, Paris
La Madeleine is my favorite because it is the most unusual church I know in France, a pastiche of antiquity, a perfect illustration of neo-classical architecture. On a monumental base with 28 stairs there are 52 columns, of 20 m height, in Corinthian style. In the wall between the columns are 52 statues of saints by various sculptors.
The carved pediment shows the Last Judgment, Christ appears surrounded by two angels. Marie-Madeleine is on the right kneeling to intercede for the damned, she thus expresses the repentance.
The bronze doors are exceptional by their dimensions which make them larger than the bronze door of St. Peters in Rome.
The interior design of the Madeleine is of a remarkable homogeneity. This rare aesthetic unit for a church is due to the fact that the interior achievement was done in a short time. With its single nave the church has similarities with ancient basilicas. The cupolas with the weak lighting remember the Pantheon in Rome but unfortunately the church is dark inside.
The columns of the nave are in Corinthian style like those outside.
Marble from various origins is the essential material for the decoration. Gildings underline the ornaments.
The high altar is one of my favorites in Paris. Beauty and originality were combined by Charles Marochetti who carved in white marble over a period of twelve years the altar piece called "Ravissement de Sainte Marie-Madeleine" (the ecstasy of holy Marie-Madeleine). According to tradition angels were supporting her body when she would leave the ground in ecstasy.
The cherry on the cake is the decoration with flowers of the monumental stairs at rue Royale. From these stairs there is a nice view on the obelisk of the Place de la Concorde only 500 m distant with in the back another Neo-Classical façade of the Assemblée Nationale -Palais Bourbon.
Open: each day 9.30 - 19.00 h. Free. A much visited church of Paris with 600.000 visitors/year.
This church was built initially to be a temple devoted to the Glory (for this reason, it is the only church to have a Napoleon painting).
But when the Bourbon went back on the throne, it was definitely transformed into a church. And it was inaugurated in 1842 as a church.
The parish around was inhabited by wealthy persons and it remains one of the most expensive district of Paris.
Look at the real estate frontwindow to check what I just tell.
Climb the stairs and have a look on rue Royale and in the far the Obelisk of place de la Concorde and the Parliament (Chambre des Députés).
Fondest memory: I have been working for 2 years in this district until my Company moved in the suburbs.
One week before the move I thought :"It's stupid, I am about to leave the area and I never visited the church".
So, at lunch time, I entered for the first time in La Madeleine.
Since this day, I came back several times though La Madeleine is far to be the most beautiful church of Paris.
go to La Madeleine...
This neo-classical Church is north of Place de la Concorde at the end of rue Royale. Built in style of a Greek temple, it was consecrated in 1842 after almost a century of design changes and construction delays.
It was started on plan based on church of Saint-Louis des Invalides. A new architect, Couture, razed what had already been erected to begin a building modeled on the Panthéon. All work ceased between 1790 and 1806 as various projects were considered. Napoleon announced that on this spot should be erected a temple to the glory of the Great Army and gave the commission to Vignon.
Once more, the existing monument was razed and building started on the Greek Temple.
In 1814, Louis XVIII confirmed that the Madeleine should be a church.
In 1837, the building was nearly selected for use as a Paris' Premier railway terminal (between Paris and Saint-Germain).
In 1842, the Church was consecrated.
The Church is surrounded by 52 Corinthian columns standing 20 meters tall.
The monumental staircases on the south side has one of the best panoramas of Paris, down rue Royale, to place de la Concorde, across la Seine to l'Assemblée Nationale