Squished by the white mass of the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre stands the little and discret Romanesque church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre. Situated in the 18th arrondissement, this is one of Paris‘ oldest churches.
The construction of the church started in 1134 and completion took place in the second half of the 12th century. The church was consecrated by Pope Eugenius III in 1147. It was built in Romanesque and early Gothic style while the vaults of the nave were replaced in Flamboyant Gothic during the 15th century. Today it is Paris’ oldest parish church after St. Germain-des-Prés.
It replaced an older Merovingian church on a site of a chapel dedicated to St. Denis.
The nave contains pillars of Roman origins and Merovingian capitals from a former church. It has the oldest pointed arch in Paris (1147) in the apse.
The western façade was built in 1765 in Neo-Classical style and its three bronze doors with the representations of St. Denis, St. Peter and the Virgin were added in 1980.
St. Peter of Montmartre was the abbey church of the royal abbey which buildings were initially located to the South of the church before the nuns moved down the hill near the Place des Abbesses in 1686. Although the sanctuary remained a property of the abbey, it became a parish church to the villagers of Montmartre. During the French Revolution, a tower was added to the church to set up a Chappe semaphore telegraph while the church became a Temple of Reason. St. Pierre was used as a warehouse for munitions during the Paris Commune events.
Threatened to dismantlement and in a state of ruin, the church was closed in 1896 before being greatly restored between 1900 and 1905. St. Pierre de Montmartre has been listed as a Historic Monument by the State since 1923.
St. Pierre of Montmartre is flanked by an old graveyard, the Cimetière du Calvaire (the Calvary Cemetery). The smallest graveyard of Paris (600 m2), it is also the only one with that of Charonne to border a parish church. Only open to the public on special days, the cemetery is the resting place of Antoine Portal, founder of the Academy of Medicine in 1822.
Find out more about the hill of Montmartre.