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Basilique de Saint-Denis | by Djof
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Basilique de Saint-Denis

The city of Saint-Denis used to be seperate from Paris, having it's own remparts. Today, it is part of the metropolitan area of the greater Paris and connected on the subway system, despite remaining a seperate city.


The Basilique de Saint-Denis is part of the abbey of the same name. All Frank and French kings where buried there for over a millenium with very few exceptions, starting with Dagobert I who founded the abbey. The church is particularly interesting as it is the oldest major gothic building, its construction starting back in 1136. There used to be two towers, but one fell and was never rebuilt. The building was majorly vandalised during the French Revolution because of it's symbolic value as a royal burial site. Viollet-le-Duc, whom I've already mentioned many times, was again involved in restorating the basilica in the 19th century.


The building was not the only thing to be violated during the French Revolution, as all the tombs were emptied and remains thrown in a mass grave. The wonderful mortuary statues where only saved because of a man (can't find the name in my papers) who was succesful in protecting them for their artistic value. The royal remains, now undistinctguishable, where later placed back in an ossuary inside the crypt of Saint-Denis.


The basilica was the keeping site of the Oriflamme, a suposedly holy banner bearing the inscription "Monjoie Saint-Denis" that appeared around the 12th century. When going to war, French kings would come to Saint-Denis to retrieve the banner. The original was lost, but a replica can be seen inside the church.


Those clouds look menacing, but they were rather isolated, as photograph from later that night will show. I was really lucky with the weather I got in France.


I'm not entirely happy with this picture because it's not the sharpest. I should have taken more pictures from farther away, instead of taking more closer and in wide-angle. I have to remind me the best wide angle is always called two steps back. Picture was slightly cropped.

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Taken on July 8, 2006