Place de la Concorde: A History


Place de la Concorde: Cars, Beauty, and Obelisks

In what feels like the center of Paris (but in reality it is just the center of tourist Paris) lies a large roundabout with fountains and an Obelisk. It's like the exclamation point to the Champs Elysées. It is flanked by the Jeu de Pomme and L'Orangerie. La Madelaine watches over the Obelisk while across the bridge you can catch a glimpse of the dome of l'Hôtel des Invalides and the Eiffel Tower behind the Assemblée Nationale. The square is a mixture of French artictecture and ancient world treasures. And the two just mix. This is probably the square with the best views of Paris. So here's a little history behind it.

Place Louis XV

Before the French Revolution, Place de la Concorde was called Place Louis XV. A large statue of the king was the center point of the square and the developing Champs Elysées led up to it. But those glory days were short lived with the rise of a new king and then revolution.

Obelisk of Place de la Concorde

Place de la Revolution

Remember how during the French Revolution they went a little crazy with the head cutting off and the guillotine? Well Place de la Concorde was renamed as Place de la Revolution. And what took place were the beheadings of many, many people, including Louis XIV Marie-Antoinette, and Robespierre. In a very morbid was, this place just got a little more interesting.

Place de la Concorde

After the revolution and a lot of bloodshed, the people responsible tried to reconcile by renaming it Place de la Concorde. Eventually when the kings came back there was a name change. Once the monarchy was over with for the last time in France, Place de la Concorde was the name to stay.

A Gift from Egypt

The obelisk is that from Ramses II's time. It was one of two given by Egypt to France. The other remained in Egypt as it was too hard to transport. Both obelisks were from the Luxor Palace. In the 1980s, French President Francois Mitterrand regifted the second Obelisk back to Egypt.

Roman Inspired Fountains

The fountains that bookend the obelisk have been around longer than the obelisk. Because of the river nearby, they are meant to symbolize the seas and the rivers. But inspiration was drawn from Piazza Navona in Rome. The architect liked the Italian's use of symbolism and inspiration of water, so he incorporated a few details.

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