Chapelle Expiatoire

The Chapelle Expiatoire might win the award for the building threatened with demolition the most number of times in its existence. Also, my streak of finding tourist attractions that are deserted continues, as I think there were a grand total of maybe four other people at this site when I visited. Expiatoire means “Expiation” which is a word I don’t think I’ve ever seen or used in my entire life until the last month.

The complex is based off the Camposanto of Pisa, and commemorates the location of where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s bodies were dumped in the old Madeleine Cemetery. The courtyard above is also dedicated to the Swiss Guard massacred in the Tuileries while defending the royal family during the French Revolution. The main chapel also reminds me vaguely of the Pazzi Chapel at Sante Croce in Florence.

I wandered downstairs into the subterranean passageways where the site of the finding of the bodies is located.

I honestly have no idea if this is really the site or if the bodies found were really the former king and queen, but the chapel still apparently is controversial. However, the threat of demolition has now passed, the complex enshrined as a historic site.

Back upstairs I looked at the two statues of the queen and king.

The last will and testament of the two are written on the plaques below the statues. Note the similarity of the composition of Louis XVI to the figure of St. Andrew in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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