From Révolution to Concorde


Place de la Concorde, site of the obelisk of Luxor (Gallery IIGallery III) has a colorful history, to put it mildly.  It was originally called Place Louis XV, but during the French Revolution it was renamed Place de la Révolution and the statue of the king was torn down and replaced with the infamous guillotine.  Thousands of people -- including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Danton and Robespierre -- were put to death there during the reign of terror in the 1790's. After things calmed down there were a few more name changes and ultimately the square became Place de la Concorde to symbolize the new peace. The 3,300-year-old obelisk, which used to guard the entrance to the Luxor temple in Egypt, was given to France by the Viceroy of Egypt and put in place (where the guillotine had been) in 1836. It's 75 feet high, made of granite and weighs 250 tons; needless to say, it took several years to transport it from Egypt to Paris and then place it where it still stands today, between the Tuileries gardens and the beginning of the Champs-Elysées.