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Notes on the Geography of France: Paris 2: Classical: Photo 10

world pictures France: Paris 2: Classical

Napoleon loved this stuff. The Church of the Madeleine (Mary Magdelene, that is) was commissioned by Louis XV in 1757. The original plan called for a building like Rome's Pantheon. Thirty years later, and after a revolution, only a foundation and a few columns marked the site. Some months after his great victory at Austerlitz, Napoleon decided to build a Roman-style temple to the glory of his Grand Army. Pierre-Alexandre Vignon began an enormous Corinthian temple on the site. He outlasted the emperor but died in 1828, about 15 years before the church was finished in 1842.

It's big, 108 by 43 meters. The Parthenon measures 70 by 30. The columns are proportionally even bigger than those in Athens, because they measure 20 meters, compared to the Parthenon's measly 10. Since the Madeleine was a functioning church, it had to have more interior light than the Parthenon. Faithful to its model, however, it has no windows. Solution: skylights set in low domes.

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