Top Attractions of Paris Sacré-Coeur Basilica of the Sacred Heart

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica is one of Paris's major tourist draws. The majestic building is located on top of the Montmartre hill.



Above all, Montmartre, an area on a hill in the 18th arrondissement, north of downtown Paris, is known for its many artists who have been omnipresent since 1880. The name Montmartre is said to be derived from either Mount of Martyrs or from Mount of Mars. Until 1873, when the Sacré-Coeur was built on top of the hill, Montmartre was a small village, inhabited by a mostly farming community.

The Basilica Project

The project to build the Sacré-Coeur Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) was initiated by a group of influential people. Their reasons to build this monument was two-fold:
King Louis IX
they had pledged to build a church if Paris escaped unscathed from the war with the Prussians and they saw the defeat of the French at the hands of the Prussian army in 1870 as a moral condemnation of the sins of Paris.
The project was authorized by the National Assembly in 1873, and a competition was organized. The goal was to build an imposing basilica true to Christian traditions.
 Statue of King Louis IX on the Sacré-Coeur
Statue of Joan of Arc on the Sacré-Coeur

The Building

The winner of the competition was Paul Abadie, who had already restored two cathedrals in France. He designed an immense basilica in a Roman-Byzantyne style. This architectural style stands in sharp contrast with other contemporary buildings in France,
View from the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
which were mostly built in a Romanesque style.
 Sacré-Coeur seen from Rue Laffitte

Construction of the Basilica started in 1876 with Abadie as the lead architect. When Paul Abadie died in 1884, he was succeeded by Lucien Magne, who added an 83 meter (272 ft) tall clock tower. The Savoyarde clock installed here is one of the world's largest.

Due to its location on the Montmartre hill, the basilica towers over the city; its highest point is even higher than the top of the Eiffel Tower. Thanks to this prominent location the Sacré-Coeur Basilica is one of the most
noticeable landmarks in Paris. 

White Stones

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica has managed to keep its beaming white color even in the polluted air of a big city like Paris. This can be attributed to the Château-Landon stones which were used for the construction of the Sacré-Coeur. When it rains, the stones react to the water and secrete calcite, which acts like a bleacher.


Top Attractions of Chicago Navy Pier

Navy Pier is a large pier on Lake michigan near Streeterville, close to Chicago's downtown. Originally known as the Municipal Pier nr 2, it is one of two piers called for in Daniel Burnham's 1909 Chicago plan. The other pier was never built.
Construction started May 1914 and in 1916 it was opened to the public. 
Navy Pier Entrance to Dock Street
At the time it was the world's largest pier, 292 ft wide and 3000ft long (89m x 914m).
The pier was designed as a shipping and entertainment area. In its first decade, the Municipal Pier was successfully attracting both visitors and ships. It was also temporarily used as a military facility during the first world war.

By the end of the 1920s, the Navy Pier's success started to decline. The introduction of cars and the opening of movie theaters created more competition for the Pier and the number of visitors dwindled. Shipping started to decline in the 1930s due to the Great Depression and the competition of transportation by trucks.

Navy Pier
In 1927 the pier was renamed Navy Pier in honor of World War I veterans. It would turn out to be a prophetic name change, as the Navy Pier

served as a naval training facility during the second World War. After the war it served as the Chicago branch of the University of Illinois. In 1965 the university moved to its new location and the Navy Pier started to decay.

The first step in the redevelopment of the Navy Pier was the 1976 restoration by Jerome R. Butler, Jr. of the Auditorium building at the eastern end of the pier. One year later it was designated a Chicago Landmark. Another step to the redevelopment of the Navy Pier was taken in 1989, when the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois installed the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, an organisation responsible for the management of the pier.
At the same time they committed 150 million dollar for reconversion of the pier as a recreational center. The renovation by Benjamin Thompson & associates started in 1992 and was completed in 1994. 
Beer Garden
The result is a very successful recreational center next to Chicago's downtown area. Thanks to its many attractions and 50 acres of parks and gardens (20 ha) it attracts more than 8 million visitors each year.

Headhouse & Auditorium
The two major buildings on the Navy Pier, Headhouse and Auditorium - both designed by the architect Charles Summer Frost and constructed in 1916 - have survived its ups and downs.

The most western building, a brick and terra cotta building with two prominent towers is the Navy Pier Headhouse. The name was derived from the area, which at the time was known as the Headlands. Each tower housed a huge 
2-million liter tank for the fire sprinkler system. The Headhouse is now home to Chicago's children museum. At the western side of the building is the 19 acre (8 ha) Gateway Park, featuring a modern, computerized granite fountain with 240 jets.
Auditorium Building, Navy Pier


Beer Garden & Auditorium
At the other end of the pier is the Auditorium, also known as the Hall. This beautiful building with a magnificent Grand Ballroom measures 138 ft by 150 ft (42m x 48m) and has a 100ft (30m) high half-domed ceiling.

The Navy Pier is home to many attractions, some may vary depending on the season. 

Ferris Wheel, Navy Pier
Here's an overview of attractions found at the pier:

- The most eye-catching is the 148 ft (45m) high Ferris Wheel. It was modeled after the first ferris wheel built for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.

- Near the Ferris Wheel is a 44ft high musical carousel with 36 hand-painted animals.

- The skyline stage, a 100ft (30m) high vaulted roof structure, is used as an ice skating rink during wintertime and as a 1500-seat theater during summer.

- The Navy Pier features two museums: the Children's museum (which plans a move to Grant Park) and the Smith museum of Stained Glass Windows, which opened in 2000.
Children's Museum

- A 7 story Shakespeare theater complex with a 525 seat theater is another recent addition to the Navy Pier.

- The Navy Pier Aeroballoon, an anchored hlium-filled balloon that floats above the lakefront with up to 18 passengers allows visitors to admire Chicago's skyline from a height of 350ft (107m).

- Other attractions are an 18 hole miniature golf course, a funhouse maze, a beer garden, a 40ft high wave swinger and an IMAX theater.

- Navy Pier is also a starting point for many boat trips. You have ample choice: You can take a trip on a 148ft high, four-masted schooner or you can hop on one of the 4 seadogs reaching speeds of up to 25 knots 
Spirit of Chicago
Spirit of Chicago
Architecture cruises and water taxis are also available. You can also opt to take a romantic dinner cruise and you can even charter ships.
- You can also rent some of the pier's areas, including the English Garden Tent and the Crystal Gardens, a one-acre indoor glass atrium with more than 70 palm trees.
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