Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 74, Place de la Concorde(3), Paris, France

We have arrived at the Place de la Concorde, one of the major public squares in Paris. In fact, in terms of area, its 86,400 square metres make it the largest square in the French capital.

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 Gardens to the east. Filled with statues and fountains, the area was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time.

So does anyone remember any history lessons from school?
Unfortunately this square has become known in history for many bloody events that took place here!!

One terrible event that took place here was
when many people were trampled to death trying to watch the fireworks at Marie Antoinette's wedding.

The most horrific time in the history of this square that most people relat
e to, is during the French Revolution when the equestrian statue of the king was removed and then a guillotine was erected in its place and the square was renamed from Place Louis XV to Place de la Revolution.

In a grim reminder to the nobility of a gruesome past, when the "Place de Grève" was a site where the nobility and members of the bourgeoisie were entertained watching convicted criminals being dismembered alive, the new revolutionary government erected the guillotine there.

The first notable to be executed at the Place de la Révolu
tion was King Louis XVI, on January 21, 1793. Other important people guillotined there, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Madame Élisabeth, Charlotte Corday, Madame du Barry, Danton, Desmoulins, Lavoisier, Robespierre, Louis de Saint-Just and Olympe de Gouge.

The guillotine was most active during the "Reign of Terror", in the summer of 1794, when in a single month more than 1,300 people were executed!!

But where is the guillotine??? And what is that standing in the middle of the squ

It's the Luxor Obelisk! The 3,300-year-old obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple.

The Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, Mehmet Ali, offered the two obelisks standing at the entrance of Luxor Temple to France in 1829. This obelisk arrived in Paris on December 21, 1833. Three years later, on October 25, 1836, King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the center of Place de la Concorde, where a guillotine used to stand during the Revolution. The other one stayed in Egypt, too difficult and heavy to move to France with the technology at that time.

The obelisk, a red granite column, rises 23 metres (75 ft) high, including the base, and weighs over 250 metric tons (280 short tons).
Look, it is decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramses II.

Given the technical limitations of the day, transporting it was no easy feat — on the pedestal are drawn diagrams explaining the machinery that were used for the transportation. The obelisk is flanked on both sides by fountains constructed at the time of its erection on the Place.

In 1795, when the revolution was taking a more moderate course, the guillotine was removed from the square and its name was changed in token of national reconciliation.

The piazza was then renamed Place de la Concorde under the Directory (1795-1799) as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the French Revolution.
It underwent a series of name changes in the nineteenth century, but the city eventually settled on Place de la Concorde.

What's wrong Marti......a shiver has gone up Marti's spine...just thinking about all the blood that was spilled on this site!!!

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