An essential sight to see in Paris, with the obelisk, the fountains, the Marly horses and the Hôtel de Crillon, this square has played a major part in the history of France.
In an irony of fate, this royal square was also the place where King Louis XVI was guillotined during the French Revolution. Originally called Place Royale, then Place de la Révolution in 1792, it took its present name in 1795, and has kept it, turning the page on the bloody events of the Revolution and the Terror.
From the Place Royale to the Place de la Révolution
The origins of the capital's largest square date back to 1748, when the city of Paris launched a competition between the greatest architects of the time to build a square in honour of King Louis XV, who was recovering from his illness. The competition was won by the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel. His project consisted of creating the square between the Jardin des Tuileries and the Champs-Élysées. From the square, a royal road was to start, framed by two symmetrical monuments. To the right of the street was the Hôtel de la Marine and to the left the Hôtel de la Monnaie, later replaced by the Hôtel de Crillon. The road led to the future church of the Madeleine. In the centre of the square, a sculpture of the king by Bouchardon was erected. During the French Revolution, the statue of Louis XV was destroyed and replaced by a guillotine which was used to behead the royal couple, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, and nearly 3,000 other people.
From the Place de la Révolution to the Place de la Concorde, near the Brighton Hotel
During the reign of Louis-Philippe, the square was redesigned by Jacques Hittorff: two gigantic fountains, the Fountain of the Seas and the Fountain of the Rivers, were installed, a statue representing a French city was placed on each of the eight corners of the octagonal square, as well as the Luxor obelisk offered by Egypt to King Charles X, the oldest monument in Paris, which can be seen from the Hotel Brighton. The two horse sculptures of Marly were also erected at this time on either side of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. They were later replaced by copies so that they could be exhibited in the Louvre.