Saturday, October 23, 2010

St. Eustache

St. Eustache is a huge church in the center of Paris.  But it's not in any of the guide books and in fact, if you're in the neighborhood, you might not even see it until you're right on top of it.  Or maybe you've noticed it from the top floor of the Pompidou Center and scratched your head as to what it might be.  The dismantling of Paris's central market, Les Halles, in the 1970s opened up the vista you see above; otherwise it's cheek by jowl with the other buildings that surround it.  And it's "just" a parish church, not a cathedral (which by the way, only means that it is the seat of the bishop and has nothing to do with its decoration or size).  Still some interesting events happened here.  It's where Molière, Richelieu, and Madame Pompadour were baptized and it also served as the setting for the funeral of Mozart's mother and Louis XIV's first communion. 

Like many churches in Europe, St. Eustache reflects the changing artistic tastes over the many years of its construction.  Although construction on the building stopped before it was fully completed (witness the never completed towers), changes to the interior continue.  Particularly striking is an altarpiece by Keith Haring in one of the side chapels which is dedicated to the memory of people who died from AIDS.

St. Eustache's other claim to fame is its massive organ.  With 8,000 pipes, it's bigger than the ones in Notre Dame and St. Sulpice.  You can catch a sample every Sunday afternoon at 5:30 when there's always a free concert and my guess is, a lot of empty chairs.


Paris Paul said...

I keep meaning to give this church the tour it deserves. I think your post has given me the impetus to do just that!

Cynthia said...

Indeed, there are many empty seats during the concerts but it's so beautiful!

Beside this church you also have an astrological column that was built for Catherine de Medicis. Unfortunately it was defaced during the revolution.

Starman said...

It's massive but somewhat plain once you get inside.

Sweet Freak said...

This is my neighborhood! (said proudly). I must confess, I've never been inside, but the churchbells chiming 10 times often remind me that I'm late for work.

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