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Place de la Concorde
Paris, France

Photographs taken in February 2012.

Execution of Louis XVI in the then Place de la Révolution.

The Place de la Concorde is 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. Decorated with statues and fountains, the area was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time.

During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed "Place de la Révolution." The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793. Other important figures guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Élisabeth of France, Charlotte Corday, Madame du Barry, and Maximilien Robespierre.

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. A year later, when the revolution was taking a more moderate course, the guillotine was removed from the square.

The square was  renamed Place de la Concorde under the Directory as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the French Revolution.

The Luxor Obelisk is flanked (hard to see in this photograph) by the Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation and the Fountain of Maritime Navigation (both 1840)

Their arrangement, on a north-south axis aligned with the Obelisk of Luxor and the Rue Royale, and the form of the fountains themselves, were influenced by the fountains of Rome, particularly Piazza Navona and the Piazza San Pietro, both of which had obelisks aligned with fountains.

The center of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramses II. It is one of two the Egyptian government gave to the French in the nineteenth century. The other one stayed in Egypt, too difficult and heavy to move to France with the technology at that time. In the 1990s, President François Mitterrand gave the second obelisk back to the Egyptians.

The obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, Mehmet Ali, offered the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1829. It arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833. Three years later, on 25 October 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 Obelisk of Luxor stands on top on a pedestal that recounts the special machinery and manœuvres that were used to transport it.

The Ferris Wheel was dismantled a week or so after this photograph was taken in February 2012. Due to its transportable design, it can be erected in 72 hours and dismantled in 60 hours by a specialist team.

The Roue de Paris is a 60-metre (200 ft) tall Ferris wheel, originally installed on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France, for the 2000 millennium celebrations.

The two fountains in the Place de la Concorde were designed by Jacques-Ignace Hittorff on the theme of rivers and seas, in part because of their proximity to the Ministry of Navy, and to the Seine.

Both fountains had the same form: a stone basin; six figures of tritons (son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, portrayed as having the head and trunk of a man and the tail of a fish.) or naiads (water nymph ) holding fish spouting water; six seated allegorical figures, their feet on the prows of ships, supporting the pedestal, of the circular vasque (bowl); four statues of different forms of genius in arts or crafts supporting the upper inverted upper vasque; whose water shot up and then cascaded down to the lower vasque and then the basin.


Deities, their feet on the prows of ships.
Since these photos were taken in February of 2012, the basins are empty of water.

Naiad (water nymph ) holding fish spouting water.

Information source: Wikipedia (March 2012)

Photos and their arrangement © 2012Chuck LaChiusa
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