The Grande Pagode – a spiritual landmark of Buddhism in Europe

Sladjana Perkovic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Located in the heart of the Bois de Vincennes, in a former building of the Exposition Coloniale held in Paris in 1931 (The Paris Colonial Exhibition), the Grande Pagode is a spiritual landmark of Buddhism in Europe. The Pagode, that houses the headquarters of the International Buddhist Institute, shelters also the biggest Buddha of Europe, covered with gold leaves and measuring (including its seat) a height of nine meters. Nearby the Grande Pagode,* **you can also find a Tibetan Buddhist temple named Kagyu-Dzong, *inaugurated in 1985. In this temple, an artistic event is organized every year on the theme of "Peace and Light".

Heritage of the Colonial Exhibition of 1931

The Paris Colonial Exhibition (the Exposition Coloniale) was a six-month colonial exhibition held in Paris in 1931, whose mission was to present the products and achievements of all French colonies as well as those of the main colonial powers, in the pavilions recalling the architecture of the territories - particularly of Africa, Madagascar, Indochina, Syria and Lebanon. The French government brought people from the colonies to Paris and had them create native arts and crafts and perform in grandly scaled reproductions of their building such as huts or temples. Some 7 million people from over the world visited The Paris Colonial Exhibition. Few buildings are conserved, such as the 28-meter-high former pavilion of Cameroon, designed by a French architect Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, that was moved on the edge of the Daumesnil Lake and converted in 1977 into a Buddhist place of worship.


The relics of Buddha arrived in France in May 2009 directly from Bangkok’s Wat Saket temple and were deposited inside of the Grande Pagode that became the spiritual landmark of Buddhism in Europe. And then, eight years later in May 2017, the Grande Pagode of the Bois de Vincennes was inaugurated, after major renovations financed by the City of Paris.

© Picture: Olrat


Today, The Grande Pagode is** a mysterious place hidden by a long wooden fence, that attracts a lot of curiosity, both thanks to its height of 28 meters as well as its wooden architecture and history. This spiritual landmark of Buddhism in Europe** is not usually open to public, but you can still visit it during some major events such as the Fete du Buddhisme in May, the Tibet Festival in September or other ceremonies organized during the year. Since 2006, every year an artistic event takes place at Kagyu-Dzong temple on the theme of "Peace and Light" to support a project of construction of the Temple for Peace nearby the Vajradhara-Ling center, a place affiliated to the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism in Normandy. The festival takes place every September, and during this event, you can see and attend many concerts, exhibitions, conferences and practise meditation. And there are also many activities for children.

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