Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde (22)

If there is a square in Paris whose name does not do justice to its historical past, it is the Place de la Concorde. More than one thousand heads rolled off the guillotine in this square, showing that there was not as much concord as perhaps the name suggests.

It is one of the most beautiful and largest squares in Paris. And measuring more than 8 hectares, it is also one of the largest in Europe.  

Situated in a privileged spot in the city, from the square you can see some of the most interesting spots in Paris. To the east you can even see the Tuileries Gardens, the Arc de Carousell and the Louvre. To the west is the avenue of the Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe. To the north you can go along Rue Royale to the Church of the Madeleine. Finally, on the other side of the Seine and crossing the Pont de la Concorde is the Bourbon Palace, headquarters of the National Assembly.

It is impossible not to look into the centre of the square. An enormous obelisk in pink granite stands there. This monument is more than 3,000 years old and stood in the Temple of Rameses in Thebes, today Luxor, weighs approximately 230 tons and is 23 metres high. The obelisk was a gift from Egypt to France in 1831 given by Muhammad Ali, Viceroy and Pasha of Egypt.

The move began in 1833 with many problems due to its size and weight. If you look close up you will see that it is covered with hieroglyphics and on the skirting there are engravings that describe the techniques used for its transport.  

In each corner of the square, octagonal in shape, there is a female statue representing a French city. These cities are Brest, Rouen, Lyon, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille and Strasbourg. The monuments in the square are completed in the north and south, with two spectacular fountains that represent marine motifs installed during the reforms undertaken by the architect Hittorff as from 1830.

 The origins of the Place de la Concorde go back to the times of Louis XV, who planned the construction of a large square with his equestrian statue in the centre. The square called Louis XV, work of the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel, would be surrounded by mansions and hotels. One of these hotels is the Crillon, one of the most luxurious and exclusive in Paris, and in which in 1778, King Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin signed the treaty by which France recognised the independence of the new United States of America.

 Later, in the period of the Revolution, the statue of the king was replaced by another symbol: the guillotine. 

Of the close-on 2,500 people who literally lost their heads, more than 1,000 did so in this square. At that time it was known as the Place de la Revolution. 

The revolutionary leader Danton, Robespierre, and even Marie Antoinette lost their heads very close to where you are standing. 

With the end of the period of Terror it was decided that its name would be the “Place de la Concorde” with the hope that it would become a place of peace and harmony.

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