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Montmartre is a hill in northern Paris that reaches a height of about 130 meters (427 feet) and the Sacré Coeur Basilica at its summit has stunning views of the city. The name comes from the original Latin Mons Martyrum, Mount of Martyrs, because according to legend, it was on the path taken by Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, who was a victim of anti-Christian persecution in the 3rd century. He had been beheaded and, as the story goes, picked up his own head and carried it through Montmartre and all the way to St Denis, a town north of Paris. A basilica was built on the site where he was buried and became the burial place of the kings of France. One of the historical streets leading to Montmartre is still called la rue des Martyrs.

During the siege of Paris in 1590, King Henri IV installed an artillery battery on Montmartre and destroyed areas around rue Saint Honoré, Saint Denis and Saint Martin. In the 18th century, Paris was still a walled city which did not yet include Montmartre. In 1860, it was finally annexed by the city of Paris and during the Commune of 1871, the people of Paris gathered in Montmartre to oppose government troops. In the 19th and 20th centuries Montmartre became an artists’ enclave where Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Steinlen, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Renoir and Picasso lived, worked or spent their evenings in the numerous cafés, bars and cabarets.

As a designated historic area, Montmartre has been preserved from development and has retained much of its character and village-like charm. Explore its winding streets and stairs or take the funicular and visit the Place du Tertre and the Musée de Montmartre located in the home of artist Maurice Utrillo overlooking the vineyard of Montmartre.