Eglise de Saint Germain des Pres (oldest church in Paris), Paris

Eglise de Saint Germain des Pres (oldest church in Paris), Paris

The oldest church in Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés was established by the son of Clovis I, Childebert I (ruled 511–558) on the site of a small marketplace, as the linchpin of an important abbey complex, and was meant to house the True Cross relic, brought from Spain in 542. In the Middle Ages, the church grew very influential as both a religious and cultural institution. Although eventually, the abbey was totally destroyed by the Normans, the church itself has survived with the suffix "des préso" indicating that it was out in the meadows beyond the city limits.

The church was enlarged and rededicated by Pope Alexander III in 1163, showcasing a fine example of Romanesque architecture. Its square tower, originally built in the early 11th century, now features a landmark spire from the 19th century. The interior of the church is adorned with a Romanesque nave and a Gothic choir featuring gilded capitals. The marble columns are the only remaining elements of the 6th-century abbey church, which once served as a pantheon for Merovingian kings. The pillars are carved with copies of the capitals, the originals of which are kept in the Musée National du Moyen-Age.

Why You Should Visit:
Upon entering this church, the colorful walls and ceiling immediately catch your attention with their beauty. Additionally, the small park outside provides a peaceful spot to sit and relax for a while.
As with many Parisian churches, concerts and recitals, often featuring Gregorian chant, take place here, taking advantage of the church's fantastic acoustics and medieval ambiance.

Tip:
Once inside, be sure and let your eyes travel from the base of the columns all the way to the ceiling. Every inch/centimeter is decorated!

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Paris. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Eglise de Saint Germain des Pres (oldest church in Paris) on Map

Sight Name: Eglise de Saint Germain des Pres (oldest church in Paris)
Sight Location: Paris, France (See walking tours in Paris)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Paris, France

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Paris Introduction Walking Tour II

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Paris Introduction Walking Tour I

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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