From the traditional song of the Good King Dagobert to the slam by the poet 'Grand Corps Malade', the history of a " monumental building ", medieval and royal. Set at the heart of the territory, in a key position...
Designed by Abbot Suger and built on the grave of saint Denis, a Christian martyr from the 3rd century, the basilica is the first true architectural representation of Gothic art. A high place of pilgrimage at the heart of a powerful Benedictine abbey, closely linked to the royals, the basilica became royal necropolis in the 7th century. It also hosts the largest funerary monument in the world: a unique collection in Europe of over seventy sculpted gravestones and recumbent statues of French royals, who enjoy the colourful lights of 12th and 19th century stained-glass windows. Forty-three Kings, thirty-two Queens and ten respected servants to the kingdom rest in Saint-Denis. Among them, Clovis, Dagobert - " the Good King Dagobert who put his trousers the wrong way around " - according to the traditional song , and first French king to be buried in Saint-Denis - Bertrand du Guesclin, François the First, Catherine of Médicis, Louis the 16th and Marie-Antoinette to name but a few. In the 18th century, many remains from destroyed churches and abbeys found their way to the basilica: brothers and children of saint Louis - Charles the First of Anjou and Phillipe of France -, or Léon the Fifth of Lusignan, the last king of Armenia.
Inside the crypt, visitors can follow the steps of the pilgrims from the Middle-ages and discover the remains of the Carolingian church, where the relics of saint Denis and his companions rest. Inside the crypt of a 17th century vault belonging to the Bourbon family during the Revolution, the bodies of Louis the 16th, Marie-Antoinette and Louis the 18th can be found, as well as the heart of Louis the 17th.
The cathedral basilica is at the core of the development of the plain which surrounds Saint-Denis and which will later become Plaine Commune. Its history, transformations and the links with its environment enable us to understand the way in which the area has evolved over the years.
Henry the Fourth's head, separated from its body, had been mummified in 1610. Stolen after the basilica of Saint-Denis had been pillaged in 1793, it was found and returned by a scientific team in 2010. It will eventually be exhibited in the basilica.
A historical journey http://www.saint-denis.culture.fr/fr/4_3a_lire.htm Through twenty sculptures, " From Saint-Denis to Saint-Denis " will allow you to discover all the history of the basilica, the abbey and the town, to that of the sports " temple ", the Stade de France.
Basilique cathédrale de Saint-Denis
1, rue de la Légion d'Honneur
Tél. : + 33 (0)1 48 09 83 54
By Métro : ligne 13, basilique de Saint-Denis
By Car : link to interactive map
Parking : available for cars, coaches and disabled spaces