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Basilique de Saint Denis

Basilica of Saint Denis, also known as Basilique de Saint Denis which has ended up becoming the favourite burial spot for French Kings

Saint Denis, was apparently the first bishop of Paris and he became the Patron Saint of France.  He was martyred in around the year 250 and was buried in the cemetery of Catolacus and then in around 475 Sainte Genevieve had a small chapel erected over St Denis's tomb, which had become popular as a place of worship and a destination for pilgrims.

Basilique St Denis

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Basilique de Saint Denis

King Dagobert I had this chapel rebuilt and turned it into a royal monastery, where he granted many privileges.  He was interred in Saint Denis and from then on it became a tradition, which was followed by almost all of the succeeding French monarchs.

And so the Basilica of Saint Denis, also known as Basilique de Saint Denis ended up becoming the favourite burial spot for French Kings and the last king to be interred in Saint Denis was King Louis XVIII.

The Gothic structure that stands today was begun in 1136 by Abbot Suger and not completed until the end of the 13th century and is comparable with Westminster Abbey in England.

The Basilica of Saint Denis is located in St Denis, which is a Northern suburb of Paris, France and was saved and then restored by the architect Viollet le Duc.

It was the first major structure to be built in the Gothic style and is often referred to as the Royal Necropolis of France and apart from King Louis XVI, his wife Marie Antionette of Austria and his sister Madame Elizabeth, all of the monarchs of France right through until 1789 are buried there, although it was not used for coronations.

But when the Bourbons returned to power briefly, they ordered a search for the remains of King Louix XVI and Marie Antoinette, and few bones which were presumed to be the kings along with some matter and a garter were found in 1815 in the Madeleine churchyard and were taken to St Denis where they were also buried in the crypt.

When King Louis XVIII died in 1824, he was buried in the centre of the crypt near to King Louis XVI and from then until 1830 other members of the royal family were placed in the vaults when they died.

When King Louis VII died, he was buried at the Saint-Pont Abbey, but his remains were also brought to St Denis Basilica and buried in the crypt.

The facade of the Saint Denis Basilica has a rose window and some lovely stained glass windows in purple blue and rose colours that were restored to their former glory in the 19th century.

Today it remains the largest museum of funerary sculpture in France, and contains the tombs and recumbent statues of over 70 kings and queens, plus it is open every day of the year for people to go and visit.

Basilique de Saint Denis

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