The Place de la Concorde was completed in 1763. It was first called Place Louis XV, and planned as a worthy setting for the royal statue. It may be the Place de la Concorde ("concorde" means agreement in French), but this square in Paris has a bloody history with more than 1300 people having been beheaded within its boundaries. Among them : Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Charlotte Corday, Danton and, eventually, the architect of The Terror Robespierre himself.
Originally Place Louis XV, it was changed by revolutionaries to Place de la Revolution. Later governments thought it wise to rename the area in the hope of lessening its darker history.
Two commanding edifices, whose colonnades are copies of the Perrault wings of the Louvre, rise up over the north side of the plaza. And, currently situated in the right-hand building is the Naval Ministry. Just on the Place de la Concorde sits a famous "palace", the Hotel Crillon, which is amongst the citadels of Parisian snobbery. Formerly, its elegant salons served as the winter quarters for the famous Chateaubriand family. Today it houses the French automobile club. These are just two examples of Louis XV style, by Gabriel.
Just at the entrance to the Place de la Concorde, on either side of the Champs-Élysées, are the Chevaux de Marly. There are eight statues representing the eight major cities of France; Brest and Rouen (in the northwest), Lille and Strasbourg (to the northeast) Lyon and Marseille (on the Quai des Tuileries) and Bordeaux and Nantes (in the southwest). The statue representing Strasbourg was modelled by the actress Juliette Drouet, who was a muse of Victor Hugo. You can find these statues on the four corners of the square.
This is one of the pair of obelisks, orginally built in Luxor, Egypt. This was transported to Paris in 19th Century. It is reported that Josephine's parting words to Napoleon before he began his failed conquest of Egypt in 1798 were: "Good-by! If you go to Thebes, do send me a little obelisk." Whether or not the story is true, Napoleon's expedition first left France desiring an obelisk of its own, though it wasn't until May 1830 that the then Egyptian viceroy, Mohammed Ali, decided to give it to Charles X of France. In Oct. 25, 1833 .The obelisk is re-erected at the center of the Place where the statue of Louis XV had once stood.
In May 1998, a gold-leafed pyramid cap was placed on top of this obelisk. Historians believe its original cap was stolen in the 6th century B.C. by Assyrian or Persian invaders. When this obelisk was re-erected in 1833, experts urged the French authorities to restore the masterpiece to its original splendor by putting a pyramid cap back on the pinnacle. But it was not until French President Jacques Chiraque agreed in 1997 to back the 1.5 million franc (US$252,000) project as part of celebrations to mark Franco-Egyptian relations.
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