The Place de la Bastille (Bastille Square) was the location of the notorious Bastille stronghold, which was stormed on July 14, 1789, triggering the start of the French Revolution.
Place de la Bastille
After the defeat of the French at Poitiers in 1356 during the 100 year
war with England, there was need for a stronghold to
protect Paris from invasion.
Construction of this stronghold
started in 1370 and was completed in 1382. Known as the Bastille, the massive building had four
meter wide walls and eight 22m (72ft) high towers.
The stronghold was later converted
into a prison by Richelieu. Most of the prisoners were
enemies of the king, sent to prison by a simple order
under the king's seal. Some of the most famous inmates
were Voltaire , Fouquet and Sade. The Bastille had a
terrible reputation, but in reality there were few prisoners
and the treatment
Scale model of the Bastille
was better than in most prisons. Nonetheless,
the Bastille became a symbol of the arbitrariness of
Storming of the Bastille
On July 14, 1789 the
Bastille was stormed by a crowd reinforced with a rebellious
detachment of the National Guard. The few guards soon
surrendered, and the 7 prisoners were freed.
The capture of the Bastille marks the start of the French Revolution. It is celebrated each
year as the Bastille Day, which was also declared the
French national holiday in 1860.
Two days after the crowds had captured
the Bastille stronghold, orders were given to demolish
Colonne de Juillet
A marking in the Boulevard Henri IV shows
where the former building was located. Some stones of
the foundation are visible in the Bastille subway station.
The square of the Bastille was created later, in 1803. It included a fountain in the shape of an elephant,
which is referred to by Victor Hugo in his novel 'Les
Misérables'. The 24 meter high fountain was removed
The only monument still standing on the square
is the Colonne de Juillet, a column
commemorating another revolution in 1830 during which
king Charles X was replaced by king Louis-Philippe.
The 52 meter high column (171 ft) honors the 504 victims during
the 3 days of the revolution. Another 196 victims of
yet another revolution were added to the
crypt in 1848. The column is topped by the 'Spirit of
The imposing Bastille Opera
building was opened on July 14, 1989
during the bicentennial
celebrations of the French revolution. It was part of
the 'grand projects' initiated by the former French
president François Mitterrand.
The massive building was meant
to be a modern and democratic opera building, as opposed
to the aristocratic Palais
. The Bastille Opera is by far the largest
opera building of the two. Its auditorium seats 2700
The design by Carlos Ott, chosen from 750 entries in
an international competition, contrasts starkly with
its environment. A metro exit as well as shops are integrated
in the building, reinforcing the idea of a 'people's
- Average Rating:
- Duration: 2 hours