The Saint-Agustin Church has undergone works for the past few years and Parisians and tourists rediscovered it in a new light in early 2018. The occasion to return to the history of this church with a rather surprising architecture.
The Saint-Augustin Church has been built between 1860 and 1871 at a quite off place for a religious building: at the crossroad of boulevard Malesherbes and boulevard Haussmann. Until the Second Empire, this neighborhood was called “La Petite Pologne” [Little Poland] because of the ambient poverty. We owe the remodeling of the neighborhood to Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann an area that will later be the bourgeois district we know today.
Les Halles famous architect Victor Baltard is entrusted with the project. Baltard is used to renovating churches in Paris but that’s his very first project to build a church.
Back in the day, metal was seen as the material of future. The Saint-Augustin Church becomes then the first big church to be built with a metallic framework covered in stones. Baltard won’t try to hide the metal, on the contrary.
The framework is not as visible as the Church of Our Lady of Work’s [Notre-Dame-du-Travail] but still. Inside, the framework is seen at the level of the vault. The church pillars are made of golden cast iron and adorned with polychromic angels. All these details dive the Saint-Augustin Church a strange and messy look, between industrial style and more classic style.
For the architectural style, Baltard chose not to choose: the nave is Roman, the choir and the cupola are Byzantine, the ciborium is antic, porches are neo-Roman. From the outside, the Saint-Augustin Church reflects a Romano-Byzantine style and it looks absolutely stunning with its impressive rose window (covered in gold leaves since the latest renovation works) and its beautiful frieze.
In other words, the Saint-Augustin Church looks like no other Parisian church. Mixing classic art and modern techniques of the metal work, it’s still intriguing today!
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