Basilica Saint-Michel

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Basilica Saint-Michel

This church was built between 1629-1653, but first consecrated in 1675. Pope John Paul II in 1999 elevated the church to the rank of Basilica.

Before After

Before and after the renovation
The basilica has undergone a major restoration in 2020 and in the photo above you can see the church before and after.

Baroque style – Greek ancestry
Basilica is a Greek word which means royal/pillar hall. It is a type of building that originated in classical Rome and Greece.

The basilica is surrounded by two towers. The right tower (the bell tower) was built in 1701 and is 53 m high. It can be seen from almost everywhere in Menton. The smaller tower to the left of the façade dates from the 15th century and is the remains of a former church that was built on the same site.

It was not until 1819 that the entire facade was completely finished.

The three doors in the facade tell us that there are three ships – the main ship and two smaller side ships.

The façade of the basilica in Menton with the doors of the three ships
The façade of the basilica with the doors of the three ships – ©

The interior of the basilica
The interior of the church contains many chapels and a number of remarkable paintings (the oldest from the 16th century), a pulpit from 1651 and an Italian organ from 1666.

The main nave and the two side aisles are separated by tall stone pillars with round arches. The ceiling is painted in Baroque style, and small windows along the ceiling allow light to penetrate and give the interior of the church its golden glow.

The main nave, the aisles and the beautiful ceilings in the Basilica in Menton
The main nave, the aisles and the beautiful ceilings – all in beautiful baroque style – ©

The famous “calade”
Much of the basilica’s fame comes from the square in front of the church. A very beautiful “calade square”, which holds more than 250,000 pebbles on the 170 m2 space.

Calade is a French term for a harmonious, decorative and useful arrangement of medium-sized pebbles attached to the ground.

This calade was built in 1757 by Prince Honoré II of Monaco and shows the arms of the Grimaldi family. The site underwent a complete restoration in 2006.

The square in front of the Basilica with the famous
The square in front of the Basilica with the famous “calade” and the view of Italy – ©

Good and old neighbor
To the right of the basilica is another impressive church – the Chapel of the Penitents Blancs – which dates from the same period as the Basilica.

From the square you can reach the cemetery via the Montée du Souvenir, which offers a superb view of the entire coastline.

By Tommy Sverre / 2020

Open for the public

Monday, Wednesday and Friday 15-17

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