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History & Heritage


5 historical sites related to Arab culture in Paris

In Paris, many sites are intrinsically linked to the history of the Arab world. Whether it is a chapel, an obelisk, or a cemetery, all testify to a common past between France and the East. Here is an overview of these few buildings in the French capital.

1 – Père Lachaise cemetery


Launched in 1804, Père Lachaise, a famous Parisian cemetery renowned throughout the world, welcomes more than 3.5 million visitors each year to pay tribute to the famous people buried there. Among them, a figure essentially linked to the Arab world, Jean-François Champollion, the first curator of the Egyptian Antiquities Department of the Louvre. In 1822, this French Egyptologist deciphered the Rosetta stone discovered by Napoleon’s troops in Egypt and created the erudite discipline of Egyptology.


2 – The Luxor Obelisk


Originally located at the entrance to Luxor Temple in Egypt, the 23-meter Egyptian obelisk was given to Charles X by the Egyptian Viceroy Mehemet Ali in 1830 as a sign of good understanding. Nowadays, located in the center of Place de la Concorde, the obelisk reflects Egyptian history thanks to the hieroglyphics that adorn each of its faces, particularly that of the cartouche of Ramses II, in which the king makes an offering to the God Amen-Re.


3 – Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre Church


Built at the beginning of the 13th century, the Melkite church of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre is a small place of worship in the Gothic style that now prevails in the Latin Quarter. This building, known as a hospice for pilgrims and poor travelers, was assigned to the Melkite cult of Christians from Lebanon and Syria, established in France more than a century ago, from 1889 onwards.


4 – The Saint-Ephrem Chapel

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Église Saint-Éphrem-le-Syriaque

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The Chapelle Saint-Ephrem-le-Syriaque is a Syriac Catholic church located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. Dedicated to the Syrian deacon Saint-Ephrem, the building, whose foundations date back to the 14th century, now houses services in Aramaic and Arabic. In the Latin Quarter of Paris, tourists and locals can find in this holy place a reference to the Near East.


5 – The Great Mosque of Paris


Inaugurated in July 1926, the Great Mosque, as it is commonly known, is a Moorish style French mosque with a 33-meter minaret. Nestled behind the plant garden in Paris, this place of worship founded by Kaddour Benghabrit holds a highly symbolic place for the visibility of Islam and Muslims in France. Today, it is the oldest mosque in metropolitan France.


See also

Middle East: an overview of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Published on 7 June 2019

#Arab world