La Conciergerie is known as the symbolic place of the revolution . But it was also one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe.
The execution of Marie-Antoinette
Located in the heart of the Île de la Cité, the complex was the first royal residence of the capital (from the 5th to the 14th century) before becoming a symbolic place of the French Revolution, whose sad fame is above all due to the revolutionary prisons established in these places and which housed, among others, Queen Marie-Antoinette before her public execution. The history of the conciergerie goes back far to the Parisian Middle Ages. It begins on the Ile de la Cité, one of the two inner islands of the Seine. It was there, in the heart of Paris, that the seat of the kings of France was located from the 9th century.
The kings of France abandoned the Conciergerie
When the Palais de la Cité was attacked in 1358, the royal family fled and left the palace to Parliament. The palace was also named the seat of the royal administrator – the concierge – hence the name of the building. At the time, the palace was considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. From the medieval Palace of the City remain the guard room and the immense room of the Men at arms erected under Philippe le Bel as well as the kitchens built under Jean le Bon. The kings of France abandoned the palace at the end of the 14th century to settle in the Louvre and Vincennes. Judicial activity developed there, and prisons were set up. Throughout history – especially during the French Revolution – the Conciergerie served as a prison and acquired a sad reputation : it was the scene of the sessions of the Revolutionary Tribunal, during which nearly three thousand people were sentenced to dead. One of the most famous prisoners was French Queen Marie Antoinette, who was beheaded by guillotine on October 16, 1793 in Place de la Révolution, now Place de la Concorde. A commemorative chapel was built during the Restoration period on the site of his cell.
One the UNESCO World Heritage List
During its renovation, the Center des Monuments Nationaux wanted to show the traces of time on the building and this is how we find medieval rooms in the Gothic style and revolutionary rooms. The medieval rooms are on the ground floor, a few meters below the ground floor. Here, we discover the daily life of the personnel of the King’s Guard. The Salle des Gens d’Armes built in 1302 under Philippe le Bel, with its magnificent vaulted naves, is a vast refectory, while its kitchen features furniture from yesteryear, its Gardes’ room where the king kept the « beds of justice », the meetings of the Parliament. Then, head upstairs where you can visit the revolutionary rooms, made up of 3 reconstituted cells, the clerk’s counter, responsible for registering the prisoners, the Concierge’s office, the Toilet room, and the expiatory chapel of Marie -Antoinette, made in 1815 in place and place of her cell. With these historical traces, many explanations on the role of the Conciergerie at the time of the Revolution and the Terror. The visit to the Conciergerie makes us aware of the harsh reality of Parisian life during the Revolution. This monument is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.