The Sorbonne

The Sorbonne is well worth a walking tour if you are looking for cheap things to do during your visit to Paris.
To admire the unique architectural style of the Sorbonne University (or La Sorbonne, how it is widely known in France), you don’t have to be one of its students.

Established in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon, it was among the best known theological colleges of those times. The Catholic institutions were generally (and sometimes aggressively) protected from any outside intrusion of the “dangerous and heretic” ideas of the Protestantism.

The old, rusty mentality of its professors was heavy parodied in Francois Rabelais’ “Gargantua and Pantagruel”, a satire of the pre-Renaissance French society. Based on similar considerations, the revolution leaders closed the institution at the end of the 18th century. Some two decades later, the Emperor Napoleon I approved its re-opening.

Today, in the old, medieval building, thousands of students are completing their education, trying to prepare for their future challenges and responsibilities. The college’s name appears on a list containing about 70 names of educational institutions founded in the Medieval Age and still functioning.


Its library contains tens of thousands of books and manuscript documents, representing centuries old proofs of events from long ago and of the role people played in their succession.

Multiculturalism and tolerance replaced the dogmatism manifested by the catholic priests and the noblemen who supported them. The only thing that continues to survive, along the majestic building, is the wish of finding out new information and accumulating new knowledge. After all, in this, and not in some useless religious controversies, lies the true spirit of the Sorbonne.

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