Église de la Madeleine

The Église de la Madeleine, or simply La Madeleine, is a monumental church in Paris commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte. It was not initially built to be a church, as Napoleon thought of dedicating it to honour his armies for the victories achieved in wars; however, the Arc de Triomphe assumed this function, and a new one had to be sought for La Madeleine. Following the fall of Napoleon, King Louis XVII decided that it would be used as a church. It was in 1842 that it was consecrated to be a Holy House, a purpose that it still serves today. Its construction was not easy, with different designs being conceived and two false constructions starts, being had.

Instead of taking a gothic approach like other buildings in its time, La Madeleine adopts a Neoclassical approach, with its design being inspired by a Roman Temple at Nimes. The church has 52 columns found around the temple, and each of them has a recorded height of 20m. The bronze doors are worth noting, as they are depictive of the Ten Commandments from the Bible. Renaissance influence can be felt in the church, more so with the lavish décor that was chosen for it. At the back of the church, just above the high altar, lies a masterpiece by Charles Marrochetti. It is a depiction of Mary Magdalene as she is carried up to the heavens. The Madeleine also has a century and a half old pipe organ that is still played today. The pediment is sculptured to depict the Last Judgement. Inside the church there are three domes which depict artistry, inspired by the Renaissance. It’s lavish, and definitely worth checking out when you are in La Madeleine.

The Madeleine is nowadays used for holding religious masses and other events such as weddings. Since it offers an architectural style of Neoclassicism with Renaissance design, La Madeleine is relished as a landmark in the 8th arrondissement, and is open to tourists who want to have a view of the church and admire the artistry dedication put into building it. In the Foyer De La Madeleine, there is a restaurant that also doubles up as a coffee shop. Perhaps inspired by tourist activity, the restaurant is highly reviewed, and offers a place for relaxation after one takes in the beauty of the lavish church dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

Like many other churches in the greater Paris, La Madeleine represents a time when architecture consisted in erecting colossal structures and incorporating symbolic structures and designs that would last hundreds of years. The Neoclassical approach of La Madeleine was not truly French, as gothic influence was still common at the time. But it is an approach that is equally impressing, and one that adds a little Roman creativity, as that is where the inspiration was drawn from in the first place. The location of the church is convenient, as the Place de la Concorde is to the south. It is the largest public square in the whole of Paris and one of the best delightful places to spend a late afternoon in the city.