Place de la Concorde

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Place de la Concorde, which connects the Champs Élysées to the Jardins des Tuileries, is the largest square in Paris (21.3 acres). Originally a simple unpaved esplanade, it was selected in 1748 for a new statue of King Louis XV to celebrate his recovery from near fatal illness.

 

Place Louis XV redesigned by Jacques-Ange Gabriel

A competition was held in 1753 to redesign the square and the king’s architect, Jacques Ange Gabriel, was entrusted with choosing the best ideas from the participants. The design project was finalised in 1755 and a statue of King Louis XV was erected 20th June 1763 made by sculptor Edme Bouchardon and Jean-Baptiste Pigalle. The octagonal square was named Place Louis XV and rapidly became the site for all royal events. During the French Revolution, tragic events took place there. The statue of the old king was torn down and replaced by the Guillotine. Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Danton and Robespierre were all publically executed there in 1793.

 

How Jacques-Ignace Hittorf transformed Place de la Concorde

As the square had become the main meeting place during the Revolution, it was naturally renamed Place de la Révolution. It became Place de la Concorde when the Directory was in charge. The use of central monuments varied with the changing regimes which followed, therefore the square’s name was also changed many times to finally become Place de la Concorde once again and definitively in 1830. A few years later in 1736, King Louis Philippe I wished to mark the end of the Reign of Terror and commissioned architect Jacques-Ignace Hittorf to tranform the square. Two large fountains, the Maritime Fountain and the Fountain of the Rivers, with rostral columns and ships bows were built in tribute to the French Navy. In 1755 eight statues symbolising the eight main cities of France were added to the eight angles designed by par Gabriel. Lastly the Obelisk from the Temple of Luxor was raised, a gift from Egypt to France to thank Champollion for the first translation of the hieroglyphics. The 75ft high obelisk topped with a gold cap is still the emblem of Place de la Concorde, marking the beginning of the Champs-Élysées.