Basilica of St Denis - History and Facts | History Hit

Basilica of St Denis

Saint-Denis, Ile-de-France, France

The Basilica of St Denis was the site where French monarchs were buried until the French Revolution.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Basilica of St Denis

The Basilica of St Denis (Basilique Saint-Denis) in Paris, France is a cathedral basilica named after France’s patron saint.

Basilica of St Denis history

The place where Basilica of St Denis stands is believed to the site where Saint Denis, also known as Saint Dionysius, was buried after his death in around 275 AD, making the then abbey church a place of pilgrimage.

Whilst originally founded in the 7th century, the current Basilica of St Denis was built in a gothic style in the 12th century by the Regent of France, Abbot Suger.

From the 7th century onwards, and officially from the 10th century, the Basilica of St Denis acquired a new and important role as the burial place of the kings and queens of France. It retained this role for hundreds of years and all but three of France’s monarchs were buried there. However, during the French Revolution, many of the tombs were opened and the remains removed.

In 1966 the Basilica of St Denis became a cathedral.

Basilica of St Denis today

Today, the Basilica of St Denis is open to the public, allowing views beyond its stunning façade into its vaulted interior. Inside, visitors can view its incredible necropolis.

Guided tours and audio guides are available in English, French, Spanish and Italian, lasting between an hour and a quarter and an hour and a half (check the Basilica’s website for the next scheduled dates).

Getting to the Basilica of St Denis

The Basilique-Cathédrale de Saint-Denis is located in the commune of Saint-Denis, in the Department of Seine-Saint-Denis.

This sounds far, but actually you can reach the Basilica by Metro, line 13, stop Basilique Saint-Denis. The address is 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, Saint-Denis.

Featured In

Paris Historic Sites

The City of Light has captured the hearts and minds of all who wander through it for centuries. Here's our pick of 10 of the best historic sites to visit while you're there.

French Revolution Sites

The French Revolution is seared into the bloody fabric of France's history. As a result, the country is home to a number of historic sites which offer an insight into this period of unrest. h