Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Paris, France

The Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés was the burial place of Merovingian kings of Neustria. The Abbey was founded in the 6th century by Childebert I, the son of Clovis I (ruled 511–558). Under royal patronage the Abbey became one of the richest in France; it housed an important scriptorium in the 11th century and remained a center of intellectual life in the French Catholic church until it was disbanded during the French Revolution.

The church was frequently plundered and set on fire by the Normans in the 9th century. It was rebuilt in 1014 and rededicated in 1163 by Pope Alexander III to Saint Germain of Paris, the canonized Bishop of Paris and Childeric"s chief counsellor. A new refectory was built for the monastery by Peter of Montereau in around 1239 - he was later the architect of the Sainte-Chapelle.

The abbey church"s west end tower was pierced by a portal, completed in the 12th century, which collapsed in 1604 and was replaced in 1606 by the present classicising portal, by Marcel Le Roy. Its choir, with its apsidal east end, provides an early example of flying buttresses. An explosion of saltpetre in storage levelled the Abbey and its cloisters, the statues in the portal were removed (illustration) and some destroyed, and in a fire in 1794 the library vanished in smoke.

Until the late 17th century, the Abbey owned most of the land in the Left Bank west of the current Boulevard Saint-Michel and had administrative autonomy in it, most clearly for the part outside the walls of Paris.

The tomb of philosopher René Descartes is located in one of the church"s side chapels.

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Details

Founded: 1014
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Cla! M. (5 months ago)
Beautiful church. unfortunately is under restoration process. can´t wait to see it in it´s full glory
Dasha P. (5 months ago)
Very beautiful church full of history. Not many visitors there.
Andreea Paiu (5 months ago)
There is ingoing restauration work. It is simply amazeing what an impressiv artwork these people are doing. Visiting the church during this time gives an beautiful before/after perspective. They also host concerts, programme is posted at the entrance and also on dedicated websites and magazines
Ori Bandel (6 months ago)
Nice place to check out, not very big, no entrance fee (which is nice), very beautiful - and it's main structure was renovated beautifuly! The side parts are still under renovation prosess which shows how sweet Paris is! Enjoy (:
J Warr (8 months ago)
The oldest Church in Paris needs a bit of work after revolutionary damages. A good area to hang out.
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