La Sorbonne

La Sorbonne (51)

The Sorbonne is the main centre of the University of Paris. It was founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon. His aim was that poorer students could be able to study theology. Three centuries after its foundation, it became an important debating centre and had a key role in the religious conflicts of France against the Jesuits in the 16th and against the Jansenists in the 17th century. Among its achievements we can also include that it had the first printing press in France. In 1496 the rector ordered three printing machines to be brought to the Sorbonne from Mainz.

Robert de Sorbon was born in Sorbon in 1201 and died in Paris in 1274. He was a wise Frenchman and priest of Louis IX. He eventually became his confessor. In his time as canon of Cambray he proposed to found a society that would be dedicated to study and to free education. This society had the authorisation of the queen in 1252, who at the time was the regent, since the king was in Palestine. The society took the name of “Congregation of the very poor teachers of the Sorbonne”. The agreed date of the founding of the university was 1257, when the king awarded it a place in the centre of the Latin Quarter to establish itself. Shortly after, Pope Alexander IV declared it very useful for the religion. When he died, Robert de Sorbon left all his assets to the university he had founded.

The classrooms that can be seen today were completely rebuilt between 1885 and 1901. The sites built by Richelieu in the 17th century were replaced by the current ones, except for the chapel. Its courses have also diversified and varied since its foundation. At the Sorbonne you can study Humanities, Geography, Law, History or Languages.

As well as being one of the most prestigious universities in the world, it is also one of the most beautiful. Its classrooms, halls and amphitheatre are spectacular with their glass chandeliers, paintings, sculptures, polychrome wooden walls... they are so beautiful that they are even rented out to make films. If you get the chance, you really must visit it.

By the way, very close by is the Chapelle de la Sorbonne, a beautiful chapel designed by Lemercier, and built between 1635 and 1642. Its interior houses the tomb of Cardinal Richelieu, carved in white marble by Girardon in 1694.

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