Place de la Concorde it’s the largest square in Paris, filled with grandness and loaded with history. It can be seen in the distance with the Luxor Obelisk standing at 23 meters tall.
It is also an ideal point for us to start our journey today, as we go in search of the Monuments & Landmarks of Paris.
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Place de la Concorde
|Place de la Concorde, the largest public square in Paris
|At 8 hectares, the octagonal Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. It is situated between the Tuileries and the Champs-Elysées.
In 1763, a large statue of king Louis XV was erected at the site to celebrate the recovery of the king after a serious illness. The square surrounding the statue was created later, in 1772, by the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel. It was known as the place Louis XV.
|Buildings in Paris are very uniformed in design and match each other perfectly
From the Place de la Concorde you can see the Arc de Triomphe (west), the Madeleine (north), the Tuileries (east) and, across the Seine, the Palais Bourbon, now the Assemblée Nationale (south).
In 1792, during the French revolution, the statue was replaced by a another, large statue, called ‘Liberté’ (freedom) and the square was called Place de la Révolution.
A guillotine was installed at the center of the square and in a time span of only a couple of years, 1119 people were beheaded here. Amongst them many famous people like King Louis XVI, Marie-Antionette and revolutionary Robespierre, just to name a few.
After the revolution, the square was renamed several times until 1830, when it was given the current name ‘Place de la Concorde’.
In the 19th century, the 3200 years old obelisk from the temple of Ramses II at Thebes was installed at the center of the Place de la Concorde.
It is a 23 meters tall monolith in pink granite and weighs approximately 230 tons.
In 1831, it was offered by the Viceroy of Egypt to Louis Philippe. Three obelisks were offered by the Viceroy, but only one was transported to Paris.
The obelisk – sometimes dubbed ‘L’aiguille de Cléopâtre’ or Cleopatra’s Needle – is covered with hieroglyphs picturing the reign of pharaohs: Ramses II & Ramses III.
Pictures on the pedestal describe the transportation to Paris and its installation at the square in 1836.
Statues & Fountains
At each corner of the octagonal square is a statue representing a French city: Bordeaux, Brest, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Rouen and Strasbourg.
They were installed in 1836 by Jacob Ignaz Hittorf, who redesigned the Place de la Concorde between 1833 and 1846. La Fontaine des Mers, Place de la Concorde
|Cleopatra’s Needle, an Obelisk in Place de la Concorde – Paris
La Fontaine des Mers
That same year, a bronze fountain called “La fontaine des Mers” was added to the square. A second one, the ‘Elevation of the Maritime’ fountain, was installed in 1839. Both fountains were designed by Hittorf.
Roue de Paris
|Roue de Paris, a huge and portable Ferris Wheel that travels the globe – invented by the French
The Roue de Paris is named after the Grande Roue de Paris.
It opened on 2000 in Place de la Concorde, France.
Including the total height of the observation wheel, the Roue de Paris stands at 200 feet tall.
The Roue de Paris is a 60-metre tall transportable Ferris wheel, originally installed on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France, for the 2000 millennium celebrations.
It left Paris in 2002 and has traveled to many other locations around the world.
The Roue de Paris is a Ronald Bussink series R60 wheel and needs no permanent foundations, instead – 40,000 litres of water ballast provide a stable base.
Due to its transportable design, it can be erected in 72 hours and dismantled in 60 hours by a specialist team. Transport requires seven 20-foot container lorries, ten open trailer lorries, and one closed trailer lorry. It weighs 365 tonnes.
|The Ferris Wheel lights up at night and is a sight to behold
The 42 gondolas can be loaded either 3 or 6 at a time, and each can accommodate eight passengers.
These numbers total at, resulting in a seating capacity of 336 passengers.
Place du Châtelet
The Place du Châtelet is a historic square in the heart of Paris at the site of a former fortress, the Grand Châtelet. The square is flanked on either side by a theatre.
Located on the border of the first and forth Arrondissements of Paris, Place du Châtelet sits on the right bank of the River Seine.
The public square stands on the land that was once the site of the medieval fortress of Grand Châtelet. The fortress was built around 1130 by King Louis VI at the Pont au Change (a bridge) to defend the Île de la Cité, Paris’s historic center.
Later, under the rule of Phillippe-Auguste in the 12th century, the fortress became one of the city’s most dreaded prisons and home to the Prévôté or “Provost Marshal” of Paris, a sub-division of the tribunal, presided over by the Bailli, a representative of the king.
It is said that some of the worst tortures known to mankind were inflicted upon prisoners at this facility.
The area around the fortress was one of the city’s most dangerous and criminality was rampant in the neighborhood.
During the rule of Napoleon, in the year 1808, the Palmier Fountain at the Place du Chatelet whole neighborhood including the Grand Châtelet was destroyed in an attempt to eradicate the criminality.
After the area was cleared, the idea for a public square was devised and carried out.
Upon approaching Place du Châtelet, the first thing one will notice is the large fountain that sits in the center.
Known as the Palmier Fountain, it was built in 1808 and erected to pay homage to Napoleon’s victory in Egypt.
|The column of the Palmier Fountain with a golden angel standing on top
A golden winged figure sits atop the column in the center of the fountain and a number of sphinxes surround it, each commemorating a famous battle, including the Siege of Danzig (1807, Prussia), the Battle of Ulm (1805, Austria), the Battle of Marengo (1800, Italy), the Battle of the Pyramids (1798, Egypt), and the Battle of Lodi (1796, Italy).
On either side of the Place du Châtelet sits a theatre.
The first, Théâtre du Châtelet, is reserved for music and dance and has been host to myriad operatic and ballet productions and, more recently, a number of popular Broadway-style musicals.
|One of many bridges that link the Seine River
In contrast, the Théâtre de la Ville, which sits on the other side of the square, is dedicated to theatrical performances, both classic and contemporary. Theatre de la Ville, Place du Chatelet
This theatre was once owned by actress Sarah Bernhardt, who was born and died in Paris and lived much of her life there.
The two theatres were designed by the French architect Jean- Antoine-Gabriel Davioud, and built around 1862 in an effort to attract more upper-class people to the area. The two buildings are almost mirror images of each other.
It’s quite easy to reach the Place du Châtelet as underneath this public square lies one of the largest transportation stations in Paris, with 5 metro lines and 3 RER lines all converging under the square.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Not the largest cathedral in the world, the Notre-Dame might be the most famous of all cathedrals. The gothic masterpiece is located on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the heart of the city.
|Notre Dame Cathedral
A Religious site
The site of the Notre dame is the cradle of Paris and has always been the religious center of the city. The Celts had their sacred ground here, the Romans built a temple to worship Jupiter.
A Christian basilica was built in the 6th century and the last religious structure before the Notre-Dame construction started was a Romanesque church.
Bishop Maurice de Sully started the construction in 1163. The Cathedral was to be built in the new gothic style and had to reflect Paris’s status as the capital of the Kingdom France.
It was the first cathedral built on a monumental scale and became the prototype for future cathedrals in France, like the cathedrals of Amiens, Chartres or Rheims, just to name the most famous.
It took until 1345 before the cathedral was completed, partly because the design was enlarged during construction. The result is an overwhelming building, 128m long with two 69 meter tall towers.
The spire, which reaches 90m, was added in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc. The Notre-Dame Cathedral has several large rose windows, the northern 13th century window is the most impressive. The massive window has a diameter of 13.1 meter.
The frontal west facade features 3 wide portals; above the portals is the Gallery of Kings – 28 statues of Judean Kings – and higher up are the famous gargoyles and grotesques. The spectacular eastern flying buttresses at the east side of the building are 15m wide.
During the Revolution, many of the cathedral’s sculptures, gargoyles and interior was removed or demolished. Even the gallery of Kings was severely damaged: the revolutionaries though the statues represented French Kings.
It wasn’t until the 19th century before the Cathedral was fully restored thanks in part to the writer Victor Hugo, who with his book ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’, made the Parisians realise the cathedral was worth restoring.
The 20 year long restoration was led by a local architect, Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. Viollet-le-Duc made drastic, controversial modifications to the building and even added a spire. The cathedral was restored again between 1991 and 2001, this time the historic architecture was carefully preserved.
St. Michael Fountain
The Fontaine Saint-Michel is one of Paris’s most monumental fountains. The fountain symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, represented respectively by archangel Michael and a demon.
The fountain graces a wall bordering Place Saint-Michel, a square on the left bank of Paris that for many is the starting point of an excursion into the Latin Quarter.
As part of his project to redevelop and beautify Paris, Baron Haussmann commissioned architect Gabriel Davioud with the creation of a new monumental fountain to mask a blind wall.
Davioud, probably inspired by famous fountains such as the Trevi Fountain in Rome and the Medici Fountain in the Jardin du Luxembourg, created an impressive masterpiece, decorated with plenty of sculptures and ornaments.
Davioud’s fountain is huge in scale: it measures 26 meters high and 15 meters wide. The centerpiece is the bronze statue of St. Michael.
The archangel is shown in Roman garb, brandishing his sword of fire and seemingly ready to strike the demon. The sculpture group, a work of the French sculptor Francisque Duret, stands in a niche and rests on an artificial rock.
On either side of the niche are Corinthian columns of red marble. There are four columns in total, each bearing a statue representing one of the four cardinal virtues: Prudence, Fortitude, Justice and Temperance.
Each of these statues was created by a different artist.
Above the statue of St. Michael is a frieze with reliefs of festoons and putti. Above, a large marble plaque shows the year of dedication, 1860, inscribed in Roman numerals.
At the top of the fountain are two allegorical statues of Might and Moderation, flanking the emblem of Paris.
In front of the fountain, to the left and right of a large basin, are two ferocious looking water-spouting dragons.
The statues were created by Henri-Alfred Jacquemart, a sculptor who specialized in the creation of animal statues.
Institut de France
Institut de France is the cultural institution of the French state.
The French Institute, created in 1795, brought together five of France’s academies of arts and sciences. The most famous of these is the Académie Française or “French Academy” – founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu.
|Front facade of the Institut de France
It’s 40 members, known as the Immortels (Immortals), have the Herculean or some say impossible task of safeguarding the purity of the French language.
The domed building housing the institute, across the Seine from the Louvre’s eastern end, is a masterpiece of French neoclassical architecture.
The Palais Bourbon, a palace located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris on the left bank of the Seine, is across from the Place de la Concorde.
It is the seat of the French National Assembly, the lower legislative chamber of the French government.
One of the world’s most-visited museums, the Musee d’Orsay houses the largest collection of painting, sculpture, and decorative objects produced between 1848-1914, showcasing many of the most remarkable works of the early modern era.
Giving visitors a detailed and breathtaking look at the birth of modern painting, sculpture, design, and even photography, the Musee d’Orsay’s permanent collection spans from neoclassicism and romanticism to impressionism, expressionism, and art nouveau design.
The history of the museum, of its building is quite unusual. In the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900.
So, the building itself could be seen as the first “work of art” in the Musee d’Orsay, which displays collections of arts.
The museum is located in the Saint-Germain des Pres neighborhood, between Quai Anatole France and Rue de Lille, and faces the Seine river on the left bank. The museum is also a five minute walk across the river from the Jardin des Tuileries.
Le Grand Palais
Erected for the 1900 Exposition Universelle – World’s Fair.
|Le Grand Palais – a grand stage for all major exhibitions
The Grand Palais today houses several exhibition spaces and a restaurant beneath its huge 8.5-ton art nouveau glass roof. Some of Paris’ biggest shows like Renoir, Chagall and Turner, are held in the Galeries Nationales, lasting three to four months.
|Many fashion shows with the best runway models are often showcased at Le Grand Palais
Other exhibit spaces include the imaginative Nef – which plays host to concerts, art installations, a seasonal amusement park and horse shows – and several other minor galleries. Renovations are ongoing and the monument will continue to develop its layout in the coming years, though it will remain open.
And finally… LV.
I suppose this needs no introduction.. =)
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|Flagship store of Louis Vuitton in Paris
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