Trocadero Paris 1892

THE TROCADERO PARIS — Every public building in Paris is not only beautifully situated, but beautiful in itself. This is emphatically true of the Trocadero Palace, an edifice erected for the great Paris Exhibition of 1878. The place which it occupies was long known as one of the most unsightly spots near Paris, having been the site of several stone quarries. But like so many other points in and about the city, it was transformed into a beautiful locality by order of Napoleon III, to whom, with all his faults, Paris is much indebted. The Trocadero itself, with its extensive wings or galleries, occupies a space on the top of a hill 1300 feet long. It is an immense circular structure crowned by a colossal statue of Fame and flanked on each side by a graceful tower 290 feet high. In front of the whole building is an arcade forming from end to end an unbroken promenade. Below this is a lovely garden, adorned not merely with flower-beds, summer-houses and grottos, but with fountains, of which the finest is a grand cascade 196 feet in diameter, which when illumined, as it sometimes is at night by electricity, forms an enchanting spectacle. The Trocadero contains a grand concert hall capable of seating seven thousand people, and its organ is one of the largest in the world. Here are also several museums of great value, among them one portraying different styles of architecture in France, and representing by plaster casts the beautiful portals of the old French cathedrals, the staircases of the French chateaux and the sculptured ornaments of the various Hotels de Ville in French cities. The name of this handsome edifice is derived from one of the forts of Cadiz, Spain, captured by the French in 1823. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot, is an area of Paris, France, in the 16th arrondissement, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The hill of the Trocadéro is the hill of Chaillot, a former village.

The place was named in honour of the Battle of Trocadero, in which the fortified Isla del Trocadero, in southern Spain, was captured by French forces led by the Duc d’Angoulême, son of the future king, Charles X, on August 31, 1823. France had intervened on behalf of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, whose rule was contested by a liberal rebellion. After the battle, the autocratic Spanish Bourbon Ferdinand VII was restored to the throne of Spain.

Chateaubriand said “To stride across the lands of Spain at one go, to succeed there, where Bonaparte had failed, to triumph on that same soil where the arms of the fantastic man suffered reverses, to do in six months what he couldn’t do in seven years, that was truly prodigious!”.

Today the square is officially named Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, although it is usually simply called the Place du Trocadéro.

The hill of Chaillot was first arranged for the 1867 World’s Fair. For the 1878 World’s Fair, the (old) Palais du Trocadéro was built here (where meetings of international organizations could be held during the fair). The palace’s form was that of a large concert hall with two wings and two towers; its style was a mixture of exotic and historical references, generally called “Moorish” but with some Byzantine elements. The architect was Gabriel Davioud. The concert hall contained a large organ built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll; the first large organ to be installed in a concert hall in France (it has since been modified twice, and eventually moved in 1977 to the Auditorium Maurice Ravel in Lyon, where it is still in use today). The building proved unpopular, but the cost expended in its construction delayed its replacement for nearly fifty years.

Below the building in the space left by former underground quarries, a large aquarium was built to contain fish of French rivers. It was renovated in 1937 but closed again for renovation from 1985 until May 22, 2006. The space between the palais and the Seine is set with gardens, designed by Jean-Charles Alphand, and an array of fountains.

Within its garden, the old palace contained two large animal statues, of a rhinoceros and an elephant, which were removed and stored during the demolition of the old Trocadero palace, and have been located next to the entrance of the Musée d’Orsay since 1986.

For the Exposition Internationale of 1937, the old Palais du Trocadéro was demolished and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot which now tops the hill. It was designed in classicizing “moderne” style by architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu and Léon Azéma. Like the old palais, the palais de Chaillot features two wings shaped to form a wide arc: indeed, these wings were built on the foundations of those of the former building. However, unlike the old palais, the wings are independent buildings and there is no central element to connect them: instead, a wide esplanade leaves an open view from the place du Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower and beyond. (from Wikipedia)


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