Place de la Bastille Square in Paris and the July Column

Place de la Bastille, or otherwise known as Bastille square is well known for the fortress which once stood in its place, the storming of Bastille and various other occurrences and moments throughout the years.

One of the now lasting monuments is the Colonne de Juillet , or the July Column when translated, which commemorated the overthrow of King Charles X is located at this square in Paris, as well as being home to a new opera house in Paris, known as Opera National de Paris Opera Bastille.

To top it off, Place de la Bastille is also one of the many very busy intersections throughout Paris, with a fair few well known roads cutting into it, such as the Place de Charles Gaulle, which is the road where the Arc de Triomphe stands.

Others that may be recognised include, the Rue Saint-Antoine, Rue du Faubourg, Boulevard de la Bastille and the Boulevard Henry IV. As well as the many streets it also joins together three different Arrondissements, being the 4th, 11th and 12th Arrondissements.

And although the history of Bastille is intriguing, the original fortress turned prison is not to be found. Except for some special stones which have been placed in place of where the fortress once was, which can now be seen for anyone visiting this place.

Before much attention was brought to this area, there stood an old train station, called Gare de Vincennes, which had been there since 1859 but closed in 1969. Yet until it was demolished in 1984 for the new opera it held many art exhibitions within its building.

In July 1989, celebrations for the bicentenary of the French Revolution were to take place, which meant the newer and more modern Opera Bastille was constructed, and this was inaugurated on Bastille Day on the 14th July.

It also included various improvements of the surrounding area and streets and those improvements made the area an increasingly popular place, with numerous galleries, theatres, clubs, bars and restaurants in the surrounding area proving to be very popular with both tourists and the local people.

Another reason the place is very popular is for the Colonne de Juillet, or July Column as it is more commonly known in English, which is one of the monuments in Paris located at the Bastille square.

After the Bastille prison was demolished following the Storming of Bastille which led to the French Revolution, an idea was to construct a statue at Place de la Bastille. And Pierre-Francois Palloy, who was an accomplished building contractor was able to demolish both the Bastille fortress and prison.

Although it was Pierre who wished for a memorial to be built that idea never turned into reality, even if he did lay the first stone from the demolished fort. But a lot of the stone did go to building the bridge which spans the River Seine, going between from Place de la Concorde on the right side to the Quai d’Orsay on the left.

Eventually, in 1793, there was a fountain built there, but not long after in 1801 Napoleon Bonaparte I had an idea of a great monument, and yet of all the things he chose an elephant, one which people could go up and inside. On top of that, it was to be constructed out of bronze, but like other such ambitions the project was never created.

However, some years later, in 1830 there was another French revolt, leading to King Charles X being taken from the thrown and King Louis Philippe coming to the thrown instead with a more constitutional monarchy.

Thus, in 1833 after the revolt died down the king decided to create a monument, much like the original ideas of Pierre-Francois Palloy to commemorate the French Revolution of 1789 alongside the storming of Bastille as well as the French Revolt of 1830, also known as the three glorious days, which coincidently also took place during July.

Therefore the name for the new monument was chosen to be Colonne de Juillet, or in English, July Column, and in 1831, the first stone was laid by King Louis Philippe himself. And in addition there was also a ceremony at the Pantheon with a poem, by Victor Hugo, sung.

When fully finished the Colonne de Juillet at Place de la Bastille in Paris measured 47 metres in height and was made from 21 cast bronze drums that lay on a white marble base with ornamented bas reliefs, which were designed by an architect called Jean-Antoine Alavoine, under the direction of King Louis Philippe.

The July Column also has an internal spiral staircase which when it was first constructed allowed visitors to climb up inside, unfortunately now though, the staircase is now closed to help preserve the monument for years to come.

But in addition to the large structure there are also names engraved into the column as well a plague at the bottom of The Colonne de Juillet, which shows the Parisians who died in 1830 revolution and one to commemorate those who fought during the three days of revolt, respectively.

Back to Place de la Bastille, you can find that there are concerts, festivals and more which also holds as a popular meeting place as well. With a skating park with moveable ramps set up most of the time to the south, popular with the younger generation, and the rich history and political demonstrations which can appeal to other people as well.

And finally, underneath the Bastille square there is the Metro station which is, for obvious reasons, called the Bastille stop which can be accessed via lines 5 and 8, and proves to be a very easy access to the square that is a suitable place for all to visit while on holiday in Paris.

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