Place de la Bastille

There are many places to visit in Paris, but one with a special meaning for the city’s inhabitants and for all the French people is the Place de la Bastille.

After being repeatedly defeated in the 100 years war against England, the French kings realized that the capital city needed a fortress to protect it, so the works began in 1370 and ended twelve years later. The result was an impenetrable stronghold, its walls being four meters thick, with eight protection towers, 22 m high each.

Under the reign of Louis XIII, the Cardinal Richelieu turned it into a prison for the king’s opponents. Legends about the cruelty with which the prisoners were treated there were pretty inaccurate, because, in fact, the regimen was more permissive than in other prisons. In spite of this, for quite some centuries, the simple mention of the word inspired a sense of terror. Among the most famous prisoners here were Voltaire and Sade.

The symbol of the monarchy’s absolutism and corruption, as it was regarded, the prison was conquered by the rebellious forces on July the 14th, 1789. That day, which marks the beginning of the French Revolution, is still celebrated as the national holiday of France.

Colonne de Juillet, Place de la Bastille

Today, an impressive building, the Opera de Bastille is located here, along with the Column of July, in the centre of the square. The column remembers the days of another revolution, from 1830, when King Louis-Phillippe raised to power. Although a peaceful and nice place, the marks of history are present everywhere in Place de la Bastille.

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