The oldest church in Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Près is the heart of a vibrant neighbourhood in Paris. Although less dramatic than other religious sites from the outside, it has a lot to offer with a rich history.
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History of Saint Germain des Prés
Orginally built under the Merovingians in 512 AD, the Abbey and church held important relics. In the Middle Ages it became very powerful but got destroyed several times by the Normans/Vikings. Only marble columns remain from the original building. They are kept at the Middle Ages Museum.
It was rebluild around the year 1000 and reconsecrated by Pope Alexander III in 1163.
But during the French Revolution, the abbey was used as a warehouse and destroyed by a gun powder explosion. The church remained.
In the nineteenth century, it was restored by the architect Victor Baltard and the painter Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin.
Below is a map of what was the church with its 2 side towers and the abbey:
Outside view of the oldest church in Paris
The current building is of Romanesque architecture with a sturdy bell tower (one of the oldest in France).
You can walk all aorund the church. However views are limited.
General view inside Saint Germain des Prés
The inside of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés church is a mix or Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
The many paintings and the gold color, give a different feeling than other churches in Paris. I found it gloomier.
Organ of Saint Germain des Prés
Like many churches in Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés has an impressive organ. This one was build in 1679 and installed in this chruch in 1805-1810. However it was completely reconstructed several times after that. Concerts are regularly being held in this old church which has a great acoustic.
All around are some nice simple stained glasses which sometimes create interesting patterns on the floor thanks to the sunlight.
And if you love stained glasses, do not miss the whole second level room at Sainte Chapelle.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés is also rich in old and more recent paintings and sculptures:
Sculpture or Saint-Germain:
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