Posted 7 years ago
So what is a Greek temple doing in Paris? It's located just up the Rue Royale from the Place de la Concorde on the "Axe Historique". The area around it in the 8th arrondissement is very stylish with high end shops and boutiques like Baccarat, Hédiard, and Lalique.
Several church buildings were started on this site at 14, rue de Surène, Paris. The first was in 1757 which was pulled down and a new church was begun based on a design of the Roman Pantheon. The Revolution intervened when only the foundations had been built. There was then great debate as to what function this building should serve in the new Revolutionary France: a library, a ballroom, a bank or perhaps even a market place were suggested.
In 1806 Napoléon made his decision: it was to be a "Temple de la Gloire de la Grande Armée" (Temple to the Glory of the Great Army)!
The architect was to be Pierre-Alexandre Barthélémy Vignon.
Again the foundations were deconstructed and work began yet another time.
After the completion of the Arc de Triomphe in 1808 enthusiasm for the project waned and after the fall of Napoleon, with the Catholic reaction during the Restoration, King Louis XVIII decided that the structure would be used as a church.
Vignon died in 1828 before completing the project and was replaced by Jacques-Marie Huvé.
In 1837 it was briefly suggested that the building might best be utilized as a train station, but the building was finally consecrated as a church in 1842.
Its exterior is striking, with large Greek columns and a carved pediment depicting 'The Last Judgment'. Its bronze doors illustrate scenes from the Ten Commandments.
Today, the Madeleine is affiliated with a Benedictine abbey. Daily masses and the most fashionable weddings in Paris are celebrated here. It is also known for frequent organ recitals and other musical programs. Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Fauré were both organists here. Fauré's famous Requiem was composed for the Madeleine.
This is a postcard published by N.D. Phot No. 19: Neurdein et Cie (1860’s-1919) Paris, France.