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

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nuno Inacio (9 months ago)
Interesting how a Catholic church has many paintings about the Old Testament scenes. Also interesting how these paintings are not a "photo" of the moment from the stories bit they try to portray as much about the message of that Biblical story.
Bina Bhojwani (10 months ago)
It has been renovated recently, the result is mind-blowing! One must visit this beautiful church.
John Fries (10 months ago)
Our favorite church in Paris. Beautiful, especially with the newer renovations. We have been to the periodic concerts held there and they are fantastic in such a lovely venue
Martin NESSELER (16 months ago)
It's easy to have a furtive glance at St.Germain des Prés when all the hype is about CaféFlore just across the street. Yet, enter this church and you will be sucked by it's atmosphere, captured by the beauty. With Kings and Saints, there is more than one can memorize and all adds up to a great experience, a magic moment.
Petr Praus (2 years ago)
Great spritual place. Currently under a reconstruction. Now, reconstruction works are finished and the result is beautiful.
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