This is a great place to visit if the Sacré-Coeur is too busy - it’s very calm inside, and can make quite a pleasant contrast.
Now rather overlooked thanks to its more brash and famous neighbour the Sacré-Coeur, Saint-Pierre is the oldest church in Paris. It was built in the 12th century on the site of a 7th century Merovingian church: this in turn was built on the site of a Roman Temple of Mars, which gave the hill of Montmartre its name via the Latin Mons Martius (Mountain of Mars) - and four of whose columns today help to support the existing church.
Consecrated in 1147, it served as part of a large Benedictine nunnery, whose convents and other buildings no longer survive. The Benedictines moved elsewhere in 1680, and the last Abbess was guillotined during the Revolution.
The surviving small church has accrued a number of interesting medieval, 17th, 18th and 19th century alterations; more recent additions include the bronze doors, added in 1980, and its beautiful 1950s stained-glass windows.
Though only a small vestige of a once-great religious establishment, Saint-Pierre remains a fascinating and lovely sanctuary, and is less crammed with tourists than the Sacré-Coeur. The climb up provides fantastic views over surrounding Montmartre.
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