Travel: Latin Quarter of Paris

In all theory, I have had more than my fill of churches by this point of my trip. However it is hard to avoid iconic religious architecture that attests to the strength of faith in those that aspired to build it. The bulk of what we explored exists in the Latin Quarter, a section of Paris that is rich in history.

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The first part of our day included a visit to the Pantheon. It was a church built as a promise by King Louis XV should he recover from his illness. Consequently, it replaced the ruined church of the Abbey of St Genevieve and was completed in 1790. Unfortunately, the renowned architect, Jacques-Germain Soufflot did not live to see its completion. It is a prime example of early neoclassicism, and has been modified to be a secular mausoleum that houses the remains of distinguished french citizens. Some of the tombs include, Marie Curie, Louis Braille, Alexandre Dumas, and Victor Hugo.

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After that, we made a detour stop to Saint-Étienne-du-Mont Church which contains the reliquary of Sainte-Geneviève. She is the patron saint of Paris, and is said to have led a prayer marathon that saved Paris by diverting Attilla’s Huns away from the city.



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On the way to the last church of our day, we passed through Place Saint-Michel. This area has always been a convening area for students to discuss social life, entertainment, and most importantly politics. It has a history of being the starting spot for insurrections, and even the centre around which famous authors, such a Hemingway, participated in intellectual discourse.



The final church was Sainte-Chapelle, a Rayonnant style building – an offshoot of traditional Gothic Architecture – built to house Louis IX‘s collection of relics of Christ, one of which supposedly included the Crown of Thorns. Louis’ artistic and architectural patronage of Catholicism, and particularly this Church helped to position him as the central monarch of western Christendom.

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We then made a stop at the nearby Conciergerie which was formerly a royal palace, but was modified to be a prison. For hundreds of prisoners from the French Revolution, this was their last residence prior to being marshalled at court, sentenced, and guillotined. It’s most famous resident was Marie Antoinette, who spent her last few days in a cell there.

The quality of life of the prisoners was based mainly on their personal wealth, and the whims of the jailers who watched over them.

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  1. Trackback: Travel: Bidding Addio to Rome | CestLaJu

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