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Montmartre is a hill in the north of Paris, France, in the 18th arrondissement, a part of the "Right Bank". The name "Montmartre" comes from "Mont des Martyrs" because the bishop Saint Denis (patron Saint of France), the priest Rustique, and the archdeacon Eleuthere were all decapitated there around the year 272. Here in 1534 Ignatius Loyola and seven companions took the vows that lead to the creation of the Jesuits. A large nunnery once stood on the hill. For many years the vineyards and windmills gave Montmartre an air of the country in the middle of Paris.
Since Montmartre was officially outside the city and free of its taxes, and the nuns there made wine, the hill did not take long to become the place to go to get drunk cheaply. From there, it was only a short step for Montmartre to become the center of free-wheeling and decadent entertainment in the years at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, especially in the popular cabaret the "Moulin Rouge" and at "Le Chat Noir" where some of the city's most famous artists, singers and performers regularly appeared.
Montmartre's Basilica of the Sacré Coeur was built here from 1876 to 1912 by public subscription as a gesture of expiation after the defeat of 1871 in the Franco-Prussian War. Its white dome is a highly visible landmark in the city where just below it, artists still set up their easels each day amidst the tables and colorful umbrellas of Place du Tertre.
Near the end of the 19th century, Montmartre and its counterpart on the Left Bank, Montparnasse, became the principal artistic centers of Paris. Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and other impoverished artists lived and worked in a commune, a building called Le Bateau-Lavoir during the years 1904-1909. Artist associations such as Les Nabis were formed and individuals such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pierre Brissaud, Alfred Jarry, Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Suzanne Valadon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Maurice Utrillo, Camille Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec plus many other artists worked in Montmartre and drew part of their inspiration from the area.
There is a Musée de Montmartre, where the painter Maurice Utrillo lived and worked in a second-floor studio. The mansion in the garden at the back is the oldest hôtel on Montmartre, and one of its first owners was Claude Roze - also known as Roze de Rosimond - who bought it in 1680 - he was the actor, who replaced Moliere and died on stage, like his predecessor. The house was Pierre-Auguste Renoir's first Montmartre address and many other names moved through the premises.
Many of these renowned artists are buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre.
Montmartre is an officially designated historic district with limited development allowed to maintain its historic character.
Downhill to the southwest is the red-light district of Pigalle.