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Sacré-Cœur Basilica
The famous stairs of Montmartre.
View from Montmartre to Paris

Montmartre ([ mɔ̃.maʁtʁ ], German  martyr hill) is the name of a hill in the north of Paris and an earlier village located there. The 18th district of Paris , created in 1860 through the incorporation of the villages of Montmartre, La Chapelle and Clignancourt, also bears this name.

The Montmartre hill ( French butte Montmartre ) is the highest natural elevation in the city. Its summit, which is 130  m high, is crowned by the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which is visible from afar . The famous stairs and a funicular , the Funiculaire de Montmartre, lead up the hill .

The village of Montmartre was an artistic and literary stronghold and a popular destination in the 19th century. Today, the artists who exhibit their work and make portraits, caricatures and paper cuttings on the Place du Tertre mainly attract tourists. Another attraction is the vineyard of the Commanderie du Clos Montmartre , whose rather acidic wines are grown by a sworn community of artists.


In the Chronicle of Fredegar the hill was called "Mons Mercore" (Mercury hill), but the name "Mons Martis" (Marsh hill) is also likely. While earlier lives of St. Dionysius did not separate the place of execution and burial, Abbot Hilduin of Saint-Denis locates the place of execution on the hill in the new version of Passio Sanctissmi Dionysii and changed the name to "Mons martyrum" due to the similar sound.


Place du Tertre

The hill is in the northern part of the city. The paths leading north (North Sea) and northwest (English Channel) across the Seine island - the Île de la Cité - bypassed the high obstacle in the east, so that the hill largely retained its rural character until well into the 19th century.

When the railway became more important from the middle of the 19th century , Montmartre was not directly developed - in contrast to Montparnasse with its now indispensable Gare Montparnasse . Two train stations, the Gare du Nord and the Gare de l'Est , are about one to two kilometers southeast of the Sacré-Cœur.


Gallo-Roman era

In the Gallo-Roman era, two temples dedicated to the gods Mars and Mercury rose on the hill . Thanks to its large deposits of gypsum , Montmartre developed into one of the richest areas around Paris. Therefore, many villas and temples were found there at that time. The quarries in which the gypsum was extracted later also served as refuge for the first Christians . Around the year 272 the bishop Dionysius (patron saint of Paris), the priest Rustikus and the archdeacon Eleutherius were beheaded here. That is why Montmartre was an important pilgrimage center dedicated to Saint Denis in the Middle Ages . According to legend, after he was beheaded, Saint Denis took his head, washed it in a spring and walked about 6 kilometers to the present day Saint-Denis .

middle Ages

In the 12th century the order of the Benedictines established a monastery in Montmartre. The former abbey and today's parish church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre is one of the oldest sacred buildings in Paris and stands next to the Place du Tertre . It was ordered by Ludwig VI. built on the site of a former Mars temple (5th century) and on Easter Monday 1147 by Pope Eugene III . consecrated.

Modern times

On August 15, 1534 , St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Jesuit order in Montmartre . During this period, windmills began to be built to grind the gypsum and large vineyards were planted.

19th century

Vincent van Gogh - Vegetable Gardens on Montmartre
Residential building on the butte Montmartre

Due to the work of Baron Haussmann , which made life in Paris extremely expensive, the population in Montmartre grew rapidly. Many workers, but also respected families, now settled here.

Gypsum mining developed into the most important industry in Montmartre. The Place Blanche (white square) was named after the rock that is so common. Many new gypsum mills were built.

In the Battle of Paris , which Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher advanced during the Sixth Coalition War , the Russian general Alexandre Andrault de Langeron took care of the storming of the heights of Montmartre. On the afternoon of March 30, 1814, the French commanders gave up the fight and surrendered. The following day the allies of the Wars of Liberation against Napoléon Bonaparte entered the capital.

On June 6, 1859, Montmartre was incorporated into Paris, but still retained its own identity. A year after incorporation , Montmartre had about 57,000 inhabitants. In March 1871, after the end of the Franco-Prussian War , Montmartre became the starting point and birthplace of the Paris Commune . After it was violently ended, the French National Assembly decided in 1873 to build the Sacré-Cœur church, which was to commemorate the French victims of the Franco-Prussian War and the “repentance of the crimes of the Communards”. Construction began three years later on the Sacré-Cœur church, which today towers over Montmartre as a landmark that can be seen from afar. The church was consecrated in 1919.

In the 19th century, the still rural Montmartre attracted numerous artists who could lead a freer and cheaper life here than in the center of the city. Renoir , Van Gogh , Steinlen , Toulouse-Lautrec , Suzanne Valadon and their son Utrillo , and later Picasso , Braque and Modigliani , lived and worked here . Popular meeting places for artists and Parisian excursionists were restaurants, cabarets and dance halls such as “La Mère Catherine” (since 1793), “Le Billard en Bois” (today La Bonne Franquette ), “Au Rendezvous des Voleurs” (1860, today Le Lapin Agile ), Le Moulin de la Galette (entertainment venue since 1870), Le Chat Noir (1881) and Le Moulin Rouge (1889).

20th century

Corner house on Rue Lepic / Rue Tholozé La vie à Montmartre
Le Moulin de la Galette

At the beginning of the 20th century and increasingly after the First World War , many artists left Montmartre for Montparnasse , the birthplace of modern painting. The boulevards at the foot of the hill, between Place Blanche and Place Pigalle , gradually developed into a red light district .

In 1929, the company "Rapid Film", founded by Bernard Natan and located in the former department store "Grand Bazar" ( Rue Francoeur No. 6) since 1926, merged at Montmartre . It was initially a film laboratory and then specialized in the production of advertising films had its own film studio since 1927, with the Pathé company. The resulting Pathé studios produced hundreds of French films before they ceased operations in the mid-1990s. Since 1994 the rooms have been home to the famous La fémis film school . Today Montmartre is a popular destination for Paris visitors. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica in particular and the Place du Tertre , which is populated by artists, are often overrun by crowds. On a particularly low-traffic summer morning, the short film C'était un rendez-vous (1976) by Claude Lelouch was made on the streets of Montmartre and ends exactly on the large flight of stairs in front of the main entrance to the Sacré-Cœur. The area around the Moulin de la Galette and the Cimetière de Montmartre , on the other hand, is rather quiet and still exudes a bit of the old turn of the century charm of the quarter.

Mayor of Montmartre

  • 1790–1801: Félix Desportes (1763–1849), first mayor of Montmartre, rests in the parish cemetery next to the parish church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre
  • 1801-1809: Gandin, M.
  • 1810–1806: Pierre Finot (1743–1816), second mayor of Montmartre, rests with his wife in the parish cemetery next to the church of St. Pierre de Montmartre
  • 1817-1828: M. Faveret
  • 1829-1831: M. Bazin
  • 1831–1842: Jean-Louis Véron (Deputy Mayor from 1809–1830)
  • 1843-1847: Alexandre Biron
  • 1848-1850: M. Vasse
  • 1851-1854: M. Piémontési
  • 1855–1860: Jean-Baptiste Michel de Trétaigne (baron, former chief physician of the armies of the empire, last mayor of Montmartre, father of Léon Michel de Trétaigne)

1870–1871 Georges Clemenceau was mayor of the 18th arrondissement , which also included Montmartre.


Very few of the artists who established Montmartre's fame were born there. That is why artists are listed here who lived and worked on Montmartre and the immediate vicinity, in the chronological order of their year of birth.

Aristide Bruant on a poster by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892

Other personalities

In addition to artists, the following personalities have lived on Montmartre or in the immediate vicinity:


  1. IV cap. 55, ed. Krusch: MG. SS. Rer. Mer. II 148.
  2. Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis 2175.
  3. Max Buchner, The Areopagitica of Abbot Hilduin of St. Denis and their ecclesiastical background. Studies to equate Dionysius the Areopagite with St. Dionysius of Paris as well as on the forgery technique on the eve of the creation of the pseudoisidoric decretals, Paderborn 1939, 133 f.


  • Hilja Droste, Thorsten Droste : Paris, walks through the metropolis on the Seine; Squares and boulevards, churches and museums , DuMont, Ostfildern 2012, ISBN 978-3-7701-6622-0 , p. 324 ff. (= DuMont art travel guide ).
  • Dan Franck: Montparnasse and Montmartre: Artists and writers in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century (original title: Bohèmes , translated by Petra van Cronenburg), Parthas, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-8696-4034-1 .
  • Niklaus Meienberg : The Blaring of the Gallic Rooster: Reports from France , Limmat , Zurich 1987, ISBN 978-3-85791-123-1 .

Web links

Commons : Montmartre  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 48 ° 53 '  N , 2 ° 20'  E