Saint Marie-Madeleine Church (Église de la Madeleine) Paris

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The Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, commonly known as La Madeleine, is a prominent Roman Catholic church located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France. Its construction began in 1764 under the direction of the architect Pierre Constant d’Ivry. However, due to various interruptions, including the French Revolution, the church’s completion took several decades.

Site History

Madeleine Church Paris France

For a time, it was intended to be a temple honoring the French army, the structure was re-conceived during the Napoleonic era as a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. Napoleon Bonaparte ordered its conversion to a church in 1806, aiming to make it a monument honoring his Grande Armée.

The previous building was consequently demolished, which took until 1811. Napoleon’s international conquests resulted in a shortage of funds for his Madeleine monument, and the project stalled. When his empire fell, the project was abandoned.

After the Restoration, the church fell back into the hands of the Catholic Church who enlisted Pierre Vignon to oversee its completion. The construction was completed much later, in 1842, under the reign of King Louis-Philippe. In 1845, it was consecrated by the Archbishop of Paris.

Despite its primary function as a Catholic church, La Madeleine has witnessed various changes and purposes. It served as a food market during the French Revolution, a temporary tomb for Victor Hugo during the Panthéon’s construction, and even a train station for a brief period during World War II.

Architectural Style

The architectural style of La Madeleine is neoclassical, inspired by ancient Greek temples. Its design resembles a Roman temple, featuring a portico with massive Corinthian columns and a pediment adorned with sculptures.

Throughout its history, La Madeleine has been a significant religious landmark in Paris. It hosts various religious ceremonies, musical events, and concerts, often showcasing its impressive pipe organ and serving as a venue for classical music performances.

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Inside the Church

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Today, La Madeleine continues to stand as an iconic structure in Paris, attracting tourists and locals alike due to its architectural grandeur, historical significance, and cultural contributions.

Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris, France


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