Abbey of Saint-Denis (Paris). Basilica of Saint-Denis. Sights of France
The colorful country, which is a leader in the list of popular tourist destinations, is famous for its cultural and architectural heritage. Sights of France, such as the cave Lascaux, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and many others attract tourists who want to touch the history.
Gothic cathedral and royal tomb
However, there are less well-known monuments that need to be told. Abbey of Saint-Denis, located nine kilometers from Paris, is recognized as a symbol of the medieval country. Having played an important role in the history of France, it still represents a great value. This is not only the first Gothic cathedral of Europe, but also the tomb of the reigning kings.
Basilique Saint-Denis, located in the Ильle-de-France region, the industrial suburb of Saint-Denis, is in no way inferior to the most beautiful cathedrals of the state, known throughout the world.The basilica, built in the XII century, stands above the tomb of St. Dionysius, who was executed in Montmartre. The old legend says that after the first bishop of Paris was beheaded, he took it in his hand and went to the north of the city. Near a village called Saint-Denis, the great martyr fell and did not rise again. In 475, the first basilica appeared on the burial site, and after a few centuries, a Benedictine monastery was added to it, which is becoming one of the main ones in the country.
Construction of the church, which became a symbol of the greatness of France
The 12th century is marked by the large-scale construction in Saint-Denis. A new spacious church is being built here, which has become that building, after which the Gothic style is spread throughout the country. The construction of the new basilica lasted for about twenty years, and it was supposed to be a symbol of the increased influence of France on the whole world.
At the monastery there was an art school, led by Abbot Syuzhe (Sugeria). Thanks to him and his ideas, the Catholic community was built in a new style, called the architecture of light. The mixed traditions of architecture gave rise to the Gothic direction: pointed narrow turrets, tall columns,the richly decorated facade was radically different from the heavy Romanesque structures.
Particular attention was paid to arched windows, decorated with stained glass windows on the theme of the lives of saints. The most talented masters worked on the interior and gradually expanded the range of plots that were used in the compositions. Round windows, called "stained rose", became the hallmark of cathedrals built in the Gothic style.
Gothic as the embodiment of new ideas and old traditions
The basilica, which grew up on the outskirts of Saint-Denis, determined the development of the architectural style of medieval France, having a great influence on architecture as a whole. If we talk about later buildings, they are made in a romantic style.
It so happened that it was Gothic architecture, which became an attempt to approach from a critical point of view to the study of the past, clearly expressed several ideas that were in the society. The architecture of a religious monument by the will of the abbot Sugeria reflected two ideological strategies that worked to strengthen royal power. On the one hand, it was necessary to revive ancient traditions, when monarchs established themselves as worthy heirs of a legitimate ruling dynasty.On the other hand, it was worthwhile to pay close attention to the propaganda of new ideas that common people of the country were waiting for in order to appreciate the greatness of the past.
Differences in sight appearance
For several centuries, the construction of the church of Saint-Denis, testifying to the greatness of France, continued, and various changes were constantly made to its appearance. During the Middle Ages, the basilica, surrounded by powerful walls with loopholes, looked more like a fortification than a religious monument. Abbot Sugeriy did everything to make the majestic sight become airy and light.
Contemporaries see only a part of the original appearance of the main religious shrine of France. The gallery decorated with stained glass, the western facade of the building, the mosaic floor, which was created by talented Italian craftsmen, have come down to our day. In addition, some tombstones of the French monarchs survived, made with precise jewelery and details so that you can see the openwork patterns on the fabric.
The value of the abbey for the country
The monks of Saint-Denis, who had a strong weight and influence in the world, entered in the chronicle, which became the official history of France, the events taking place in the country.In the monastery, which was engaged in charitable activities, coronations of queens were held and heirs to the throne were trained. The monks opened a shelter for the needy, a free hospital, a school for commoners, engaged in educational work. Here were kept the most important relics of the French rulers, who symbolized royal power.
Saint-Denis Abbey, reflecting all the ambitions of the monarchy that was gaining momentum, played a significant role in the national politics of the French kings, who were revered as representatives of God on earth.
After a hundred years, Louis IX issued a decree that all the remains of the rulers were transferred to the abbey, which received the nickname "necropolis of royal persons". The magnificent tomb resembled a real museum, consisting of elegant sarcophagi. There were 119 graves that belonged to kings, queens, princes and princesses of the country. At the time of the revolution in the 18th century, the tombs of the rulers were destroyed: the outraged rebels who ravaged the abbey, melted down bronze tombstones and threw the remains into the ditch.
Unfortunately, most of the luxurious art collection that was kept here has been lost forever. The revolutionaries planned to destroy the basilica building, and only by luck it did not happen.
Restoration of the historical and architectural complex
Only in the 70s of the XIX century, when the era of upheavals ended, did the authorities decide on the restoration of the old complex. Benedictine abbey with donations and with the financial support of French aristocrats turns into a monument of national importance. The famous architect Viollet-le-Duc, inspecting all religious buildings, for 20 years, restores the historical and architectural ensemble, which was in terrible condition. He recreates and interior decoration to restore the royal burial.
In addition to the monarchs, other noble persons rest in the abbey who influenced the history of the country. Since 1830, after the July revolution, the kings ceased to find the last shelter here, but the walls of the most interesting sights of France were replenished with new remains.
13 years ago, the heart of the young Louis XVII, who did not ascend the throne, was buried here.The fact is that since ancient times there is a tradition according to which internal organs are removed from kings, and the skeleton is freed from flesh. And the hearts of the monarchs were always buried separately from their bodies.
The monument of antiquity, which will help to plunge into history
The elegant Basilica of Saint-Denis is currently a functioning Catholic church and is open to all tourists who want to look at the holy place. The National Monument, on the facade of which you can see a sign erected in honor of the wounded Joan of Arc in the vicinity, will allow everyone to plunge into the atmosphere of antiquity and breathe an air of history.
Unfortunately, on the right bank of the Seine, on the territory of the commune where Saint-Denis is located, the crime rate is quite high, and most often tourists do not attend the abbey, which is not part of the excursion program. However, this corner, which turned into an unusual museum of tombstone sculpture of the Middle Ages, is worth a personal acquaintance with it and enjoy its amazing beauty.