Saint-Sulpice is the second largest church in Paris after Notre-Dame. Its construction began in 1646 but it took over a century to complete it. The result is impressive: the church is 113 meters long, slightly darker than other churches in Paris. When we came in the organist was playing something that could have become the soundtrack to a Dracula movie - the effect was rather spectacular and I walked through the church in silence with my ears and eyes wide open, hair standing on end!
I was relieved to see that the church wasn't too crowded on the day we were there. Saint-Sulpice is one of the Parisian locations mentioned in Dan Brown's best-seller "The Da Vinci Code", and since then many tourists have come to Saint-Sulpice looking for the "Rose Line" and the obelisk mentioned in the book and featured in the movie starring Tom Hanks. But there are other more interesting features to be found in this church, including the murals painted by renowned French artist Eugene Delacroix.
Saint-Sulpice is open everyday and admission is free. In front of the church is Place Saint-Sulpice, ornated with the beautiful Four Bishops Fountain (Fontaine des Quatre-Eveques), where kids and pigeons take turn eating lunch :o)
The church of Stt.-Sulpice was built by a series of architects from 1646-1780; the last parts are the heavy North Tower and the lavish Lady Chapel. The church is surprisingly immense (about 45 ft. shorter and 30 ft. wider and as high as Notre Dame). Its acousticas and superb organ make for great listening if you catch a service. Evening Mass is held in the Lady Chapel which is thickly columned and has behind the Altar a 19C statue of the Virgin and Child rising on billowing clouds (by Pigalle). In the first chapel on the right as you enter, Delacroix has expressed himself in two wall murals and a dome. Most of the time Ihave found the church as dark, quiet and restful. Now due to the "Da Vinci Code" it presents itself as sinister (but I have never seen an albino monk). Outside in the wide Place is a fine Fountain of the Four Cardinals which lends itself to poster-scale photography.
This church is a key visit on the Da Vinci trail though is really worth a visit in its own right if you like art. Having read the DVC I was interested in the Rose line and other bits as described in the book but was really stunned with the fantastic sculptures and works by Delacriox. Delacroix has many amazing frescoes in the Chapelle des Anges (Chapel of the Angels). The chapel is the first on your right as you enter and is a must see in Paris.
My guide advised that work on the church began in 1646 with work on the bell towers continuing until 1780. The church has one of the world's largest organs, comprising 6,700 pipes which may give you a "so what" feeling until you see it - it's fairly impressive.
While you are here, if the need arises, you can also try to find the spot where a certain bady did a bit of digging in the DVC.
Admission is free and the place is open from 7.30am to 7.30pm every day.
St. Sulpice is one of those saints whose biography makes him appear indeed saintly. His father opposed the idea of him entering the monastic life and required him to oversee the family farm. He spent his spare time in devotional life and service to the poor and only became a monk at the age of 40. Thus he is the patron saint of delayed vocations.
The church here was constructed in the 17th C over the ruins of an earlier 12th C building and is a magnificent example of classical church architecture. However its most recent claim to fame results from the novel ‘The DaVinci Code.’ To disavow what it calls ‘fanciful allegations in a recent best selling novel’ there is a sign on the wall - in English no less - explaining that the brass inlay in the floor was done in conjunction with the Paris Observatory and has never been called the ‘Rose-line’ and does not coincide with the meridian line in Paris. It concludes with the statement: ‘Please also note that the letters ‘P’ and ‘S’ in the small round windows at both ends of the transept refer to Peter and Sulpice, the patron saints of the church, not an imaginary ‘Priory of Sion.’
Saint-Sulpice was one of my favorite churches in Paris, years before the movie "The Da Vinci Code" came out. I particularly love the fountain in front of the church. Saint-Sulpice, a late Baroque church, was constructed between 1646 and 1745. Believe it or not, both the Marquis de Sade and Charles Baudelaire were christened here. This was also the site of the wedding of Victor Hugo.
Outside, the fountain by Visconti presents sculpted portraits of four bishops of the Louis XIV area.
The church is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. There is no cost to enter.
I’d read the Da Vinci Code, albeit some time previously, but although I knew the Sainte Sulpice cathedral was relevant to the book, the details had slipped my memory. I found my way to the altar, where there was a brass line on the floor leading up to a stone column (photo 1) on the far side: ah yes, that was something to do with it. So I stood there struggling to dredge up memory, camera in hand and trying not to look too much like a tourist, when suddenly the strangest thing happened. Implausible as it may sound, this is true.
A well dressed man in a suit, tie, and gabardine overcoat, came up to me and started talking earnestly in French. When I persuaded him to slow to my comprehension speed, he told me that the brass line on the floor was put there in the 1700s, as part of a scientific experiment. He pointed to the window on the south, high above the floor (photo2) and told me of two holes through which the sunlight passes to land on brass markers at the solstices and equinoxes. He also told me that, with modern technology, it has since been shown to be accurate to within seconds. Then he walked away, speaking to nobody else and knowing I had understood his message. I looked carefully around - shades of the Da Vinci Code indeed! But those candlestick holders (photo 3) are about 1.5 metres tall and not to be waved about lightly.
Whatever the book says, the brass line is not actually on the Paris Meridian and, much as I’m sorry to disappoint you, was never called the ‘Rose Line’. But while there don’t forget to admire the interior of this enormous baroque church and to look at the marvellous organ (photo 4) – with luck, it may even be playing during your visit.
The impressive interior of Eglise Saint-Sulpice is dominated by Delacroix's work. The murals in the first chapel were painted between 1849 and 1861.
The Lady Chapel was painted under the supervision of Servandoni, while the Virgin and Child group behind the altar is by Pigalle.
Dedicated to the Archbishop of Bourges, St Sulpicius, the church was built as parish church in the 6 C and was subsequently modified.
Saint-Sulpice is dominated by its two towers, out of which the left one is taller and more decorated than the right one which was never finished.
Place St-Sulpice in front of the church has in the middle the Fontaine des Quatre Points Cardinals erected by Visconti in 1844.
Not only was the church a great place to visit with a wonderful fountain in front, but the organ music is great. On one morning the organist played the last movement from Beethoven's 9th symphony. Later that day there was a free Bach organi concert. Featured in the DaVinci Code, it was kind of neat seeing the meridian line through the church as well as the candle sticks supposedly used by a bad buy to wack a nun. Apparently the fact they weigh several hundred pounds is cause for amusement by the priests at the Church
Isn't really too interesting if you're backpacking across Europe and there are places like the Vatican, Notre Dame and the Basilica of San Marco to go to. I only went because I read the Da Vinci Code and I wanted to see what this fuss is about ... in regards to the "trail leading to the altar", there was this tiled rose floor.. which I thought it might be it but I wasn't too sure.
Otherwise, a pretty church, but nothing too special.
Ancien monument astronomique composé d'une tige verticale faisant ombre sur une surface plane, ou d'une plaque percée d'un trou, projetant une image elliptique du soleil.
Former astronomical monument composed of a vertical stem making shade on a plane surface, or of a plate pierced of a hole, projecting an elliptic picture of the sun.
On en trouve un dans l'église St Sulpice. ( à midi pile, le soleil entre dans l'église et suit la ligne tracée au sol).
One finds one of it in the church St. Sulpice. (at noon battery, the sun enters in the church and follows the line drawn to soil).
Certains pensent que ce méridien symbolise La Rose Ligne ou La méridienne de Paris...
Some think that this meridian symbolizes The Rose Lign offs or The meridian of Paris...
Le Gnomon solaire de St Sulpice était un méridien de référence jusqu'au 17ème siècle, où les progrès dans les sciences et techniques permirent d'en calculer un plus précis. En 1672, l'observatoire de Paris fut construit, et le nouveau méridien de Paris fut calculé. Le gnomon solaire devint alors obsolète.
The solar Gnomon of St. Sulpice was a meridian of reference until the 17th century, where the progress in the sciences and techniques permitted to calculate a more precise of it. In 1672, the observatory of Paris was constructed, and the new meridian of Paris was calculated. The solar gnomon became then obsolete.
Silas est envoyé à Saint Sulpice à la recherche de la clef de voute...
Silas is sent to Saint Sulpice in search of the key of arch...
La fontaine des Quatre-Evêques (Bossuet, Fénelon, Massillon, Fléchier) au centre de la place, fut construite sur les plans de Visconti en 1844.
The fountain of the Four Bishops (Bossuet, Fenelon, Massillon, Flechier) in the center of the place, was constructed on the plans of Visconti in 1844.
Depuis la publication du roman, Vingt milles visiteurs sont venus chercher des indices sur l'existence du Prieuré de Sion, et autres symboles indiqués dans " Da Vinci Code ". Lassé de ces visites, le prêtre a fait accrocher à la porte une pancarte indiquant qu'il n'y avait rien de tout cela dans l'église "contrairement aux allégations fantaisistes contenues dans un récent roman à succès".
Since the publication of the novel, Twenty miles visitors came to look for the indications on the existence of the Priory of Zion, and other symbols indicated in " Da Vinci Code ". Tired of these visits, the priest made the door hang a placard indicating that there was not anything of all it in the church " contrary to the fanciful allegations contained in a recent novel to success ".
Sa construction a débuté en 1646 et s'est définitivement terminée en 1733. De style jésuite, elle abrite des peintures murales d'Eugène Delacroix, un gnomon.
Au sol, une ligne traverse l'église, certains pensent qu'elle représente le Méridien de Paris. Il n'en est rien, cette ligne est un instrument de mesure astronomique, destinée à donner l'heure solaire.
Its construction started in 1646 and finished itself definitely in 1733. Of Jesuit style, it shelters wall paintings of Eugene Delacroix, a gnomon.
To soil, a line crosses the church, some think that it represents the Meridian of Paris. It is not anything of it, this line is an astronomical measure instrument, destined to give the solar hour.
So I did find the churches in paris to be the most enjoyable part of my trip. I have not always been into architecture, but something about walking into these century old buildings and seeing the beautiful painting on the cielings, stained glass windows and realizing how old everything really was took my breath away. Saint Sulpice was the best of the best (of the churches that I saw). It was not in great shape because a lot of the stone was blackened, the paintings were dark and colors had faded over the years, but these qualities gave the church all the more character. I was amazed by everything in it. This church also has one of the largest organs in the world.
I remember Hemingways description of this square in A Moveable Feast. I recently read The Da Vinci Code in which the church played a significant role. The fountain with the four Bishops on it is stunning and the church is quite charming with its mismatched towers on the front. The streets surrounding Saint-Sulpice are full of nice shops.