The Butte Montmartre, its painters, its musicians, its writers… and its martyrs, is indeed an often overlooked part of its history.

The highest point of Paris

Butte Montmartre

The Butte Montmartre is crowned by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a place of pilgrimage, a place frequented by artists, since the end of the 19th century by the artists (painters: the Impressionists, the writers, the musicians) who made it famous. Located in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, in the Clignancourt district, the Butte Montmartre is also the highest point of the French capital with some 130 meters of altitude. At its summit is, by its full name, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre, a Roman-Byzantine style church, built between 1875 and 1923.

A hill dedicated to the Roman god Mercury

The origins of the Montmartre hill go back to Antiquity, at a time when polytheism and pagan religion were imposed on everyone. Thus, the Montmartre hill was dedicated to the Roman god Mercury (Hermes among the Greeks): messenger of the gods, in particular of Jupiter (Zeus), Mercury is also the god of travelers and traders. It is he who leads the souls of the deceased to Hell, where the three judges — Minos, Rhadamanthes and Eaque — decide on the final destination assigned to each soul. At that time, the Montmartre hillock was exploited for the extraction of gypsum which notably made it possible to manufacture plaster. In the 3rd century, the hill became the symbol of the martyrs, nicknamed Mont des martyrs: Montmartre thus sheltered the remains of Saint-Denis, first bishop of Paris, until the beginning of the 6th century.
Subsequently, abbeys, convents and other places of pilgrimage associated with Catholic worship will be erected at the top of the Montmartre hill : King Henry IV will stay at the royal abbey in his time, at a time when Montmartre was then located at outside of Paris (independent locality, Montmartre will not be attached to the capital until 1860).

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