PLACE DE LA CONCORDE, PARIS — This is the most magnificent public square in the world. On one side the Rue Royale extends to the majestic Church of La Madeleine. Opposite to that is the river Seine. On the right of the square, as we here behold it, is the Garden of the Tuilleries, and on the left the famous promenade of the Champs Elysees. In the center rises the Egyptian Obelisk erected there during the reign of Louis Philippe. It is 76 feet high, and was brought hither from Luxor, a suburb of “ancient, hundred-gated Thebes,” where it had been standing more than 3,000 years. On two sides of this historic monolith are imposing fountains, and around the Square we discern eight colossal seated statues, representing the principal cities of France: Lille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Rouen, Brest, Marseilles, Lyons and Strasbourg. Since the Franco-Prussian war the statue of Strasbourg has been constantly draped in mourning or surrounded by wreaths of flowers, a touching proof of the affection still felt by the French for that city, taken from them by the Germans. The history of this Place de la Concorde is as sombre as the Square itself is gay. It was the favorite place of execution during the Reign of Terror in 1793-4. Upon the spot which that Egyptian obelisk now darkens with its shadow stood then the fatal guillotine which beheaded the King Louis XVI, the Queen Marie Antoinette, the Girondists, Charlotte Corday, Madame Roland, and at last Danton, Robespierre and the original leaders of the Revolution. Chateaubriand well said, in view of the thousands who had perished there, that all the water in the world would not suffice to wash away the blood which had there been shed. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)
The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris, France. It is located in the city’s eighth arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées.
The place was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 as a moat-skirted octagon between the Champs-Élysées to the west and the Tuileries Garden to the east. Decorated with statues and fountains, the area was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time. The square showcased an equestrian statue of the king, which had been commissioned in 1748 by the city of Paris, sculpted mostly by Edmé Bouchardon, and completed by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle after the death of Bouchardon.
At the north end, two magnificent identical stone buildings were constructed. Separated by the rue Royale, these structures remain among the best examples of Louis Quinze style architecture. Initially, the eastern building served as the French Naval Ministry. Shortly after its construction, the western building became the opulent home of the Duc d’Aumont. It was later purchased by the Comte de Crillon, whose family resided there until 1907. The famous luxury Hôtel de Crillon, which currently occupies the building, took its name from its previous owners.
During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed Place de la Révolution. The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793.
Other important figures guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Élisabeth of France, Charlotte Corday, Madame du Barry, Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Antoine Lavoisier, Maximilien Robespierre, Louis de Saint-Just and Olympe de Gouges.
In 1795, under the Directory, the square was renamed Place de la Concorde as a gesture of reconciliation after the turmoils of the French Revolution. After the Bourbon Restoration of 1814, the name was changed back to Place Louis XV, and in 1826 the square was renamed Place Louis XVI. After the July Revolution of 1830 the name was returned to Place de la Concorde and has remained since then. (from Wikipedia)
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