The Sorbonne University

The Sorbonne University is universally famous. Everyone I’ve ever talked to who has visited France has heard of it. It has been around for centuries and, in fact, was started by Robert of Sorbonne in the mid 13th century. Richelieu, in the 1600’s, had it rebuilt along with a chapel where his tomb now lies. On the spur of the moment I took a short tour through the Sorbonne. You aren’t able to get inside the Sorbonne unless you are a student and I’ve long wanted to see the interior. Parts of it that we got to see aren’t even accessible by students.


This is an observatory that is a land mark of the Latin Quarter where the Sorbonne is located. It was called the Latin Quarter because all of the classes were taught in Latin and Latin was heard all over the area.


This lovely window was up overhead as we entered the building. There are staircases on either side and then the balcony making the oval.


A view of the famous staircase. This area is going to be closed for renovation so we felt lucky to see it. The building was last renovated in 1889 to celebrate the 100th year of the French Revolution.


A closeup of the corner of a room showing the tile work on the floor. I love details like this. It seems like they don’t do work like this anymore.


A lovely, little used room lined with famous paintings


An S standing for Sorbonne painted on a wall


A lovely huge courtyard in the interior of the Sorbonne that students could hang out in. I wonder if they know how lucky they are to attend school there?


There is a chapel in the Sorbonne where Richelieu is buried. He is a very famous, very influential minister to Louis XIII. The tomb was almost destroyed during the French Revolution but was saved at the last minute by a man who threw himself on top of the tomb to keep the Revolutionists from destroying it and was injured with a bayonet for his trouble. He also preserved the tombs at St Dennis. Richelieu’s tomb is placed rather strangely in front of the alter and only the priest can see it, while the congregation gets to look at the back of the sculpture. It shows Richelieu being held by “Religion” while “Science” grieves at his feet. The chapel was in a very bad state and was undergoing renovation.


This is the hat of Richelieu suspended over his tomb. I have looked in vain for the reason for this. I know Richelieu had it suspended there . I think I read, some time ago, that when it finally fell, Sorbonne would no longer exist. I have been googling like crazy but can’t find the information. Since I read that, I have been wanting to get into the chapel and see it, and I finally did. Now I can check off one of the things on my growing list of all there is to see in Paris, not to mention France. I don’t think I will live long enough to see it all.

10 thoughts to “The Sorbonne University”

  1. What a beautiful staircase (does not look like it needs any renovation!).
    Is the Sorbonne open to the public during the journées de Patrimonie?

  2. Amazingly beautiful! How fortunate you were to see it all for yourself. Thank you for sharing your lovely photos with us and for the intersting captions. I would love to see it one day!

  3. Thanks for very interesting post. I found the following on the College of Cardinals website and thought you might be interested…

    “The red hat is solemnly conferred upon the newly created cardinal by the Pope himself at a public consistory. At the death of a cardinal this hat must be placed at the foot of the catafalque and, afterwards, suspended from the ceiling above his tomb.”

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