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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Place De La Concorde, Paris - A City Square Rich With History

Hôtel de Crillon (on the left)Image via WikipediaBy Derek F Wright
The Place de la Concorde, as it is now known, has been variously named since it was conceived as a public square in 1755. It is called "Concorde" today to indicate harmony and reconciliation. As the largest square in Paris, located at the eastern end of the Champs-Elysees, the modern visitor sees statues and fountains, not to mention a giant obelisk, surrounded by magnificent eighteenth-century buildings.
It wasn't always a place of harmony. "Concorde" was first used as a name for the square at the very end of the eighteenth century after the shake-up of the French Revolution. Not long before, the square had been called "Place de la Revolution". The name was vivid, for it was here that the famous guillotine associated with the upstart regime was erected, used to decapitate before cheering crowds Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette in 1793, not to mention Charlotte Corday, Georges Danton, Maximilien Robespierre and many others. In fact, in a single month in the summer of 1794, during the Reign of Terror, the guillotine severed the heads of no fewer than 1,300 victims.
The beauty of the square was compromised during those revolutionary times. The statue of Louis XV was torn down, an action that doubtless went hand in hand with the need to restyle the square from its original name of Place Louis XV. Only a generation before the revolution, Louis XV had been the reigning king who oversaw the building of the square as we recognise it today. Two magnificent identical stone buildings were created at the north end, the eastern one acting as the French Naval Ministry and the western one being the home of a duke. Today, the western building is occupied by a luxury hotel, Hotel de Crillon.
There are many hotels near the Place de la Concorde in the Champs Elysees area. You can learn more about the Place de la Concorde at
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