The Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris is one
of the most beautiful squares in the world.
The history of the Place des Vosges goes back to 1604 when King Henry IV built a Royal pavilion at the southern end of the square. The
building was designed by Baptiste du Cerceau.
The King ordered all 35 other buildings bordering the
square to follow the same design.
The result, an early
example of urban planning, is a symmetrical square surrounded
by buildings with red brick and white stone facades,
steep slate roofs and dorm windows,
The Royal pavilion at the center of the southern side,
the so-called King's pavilion, was built on top of a
gateway. At the northern side mirroring the King's pavilion
is the Queen's pavilion.
Before the 17th century, another prominent building occupied the northern end of the square: the 'Hôtel de
Tournelles'. This grand building was constructed in
1388 and served as a residence for the Royal family
until 1559, when King Henry II was severely wounded
during a tournament held at the site. He
died ten days later in the Hôtel de Tournelles.
His wife, Catherine de Medicis, had the building demolished
Statue of Louis XIII
moved to the Louvre
The square was officially inaugurated in 1612 as the 'Place Royale'. At that time merely a lawn, it was a favorite
place for duels.
In 1639 Richelieu had an equestrian
statue of King Louis XIII erected at the center of the
square. It was destroyed during the French Revolution
but a new statue of King Louis XIII was installed in
In 1800 Napoleon changed the name of the square from 'Place Royale' to 'Place des Vosges' to show his gratitude
towards the Vosges department, the first department
in France to pay taxes.
It was again renamed Place Royale
in 1815, only to be changed yet again into 'Place des
Vosges' in 1870.
Many famous Frenchmen lived here at this square, among them Richelieu and Victor Hugo.
Cardinal Richelieu, who became prime minister
of France in 1624 lived at nr 21 from 1615 to 1627.
Victor Hugo, author of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'
lived on the second floor of house nr 6, the 'Hôtel
de Rohan-Guéménée', from 1832 to
1848. The house, now called 'Maison de Victor Hugo'
is turned into a museum. You can visit the rooms where
Victor Hugo wrote
most of 'Les Misérables'. On display are souvenirs,
drawings and books, all in chronological order, from
his childhood to his exile between 1852 and 1870.
The Place des Vosges is now a peaceful place, a nice central park surrounded by arcades with shops and cafes.
It is located in the historical Marais district, in
the 3rd arrondissement
, not far from the Place de la Bastille