See this handsome public square, where more than 1,300 people, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, were executed during France’s grisly Reign of Terror.
Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in Paris. Note the two impressively decorative fountains and the giant Egyptian obelisk at its center, making it an attractive public space and a prime spot for taking photos.
The square was originally named Place Louis XV and featured an equestrian statue of the eponymous monarch. During the French Revolution, the statue was torn down and the square was renamed Place de la Révolution. Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and another 1,300 people were guillotined here in the years following the revolution. In 1795, the square was given its current name in an effort to leave the turmoil of its past behind.
Look for the 76-foot (23-meter) Egyptian obelisk at the center of the square. Hieroglyphs adorn the structure, which is over 3,000 years old. These hieroglyphs depict events from the reign of Ramses II and Ramses III. Gaze skyward to see a golden pyramid at the top. This was added in 1998 to replace the original gold cap, believed to have been pilfered in ancient times.
Check out the two fountains on the north and south ends of the square, both designed by German-born architect Jakob Ignaz Hittorff. The north fountain is devoted to rivers, with figures symbolizing the Rhine and the Rhône. The south fountain celebrates the seas, with figures representing the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Look for the statues dotted around the edge of the square. These represent major French cities, including Lyon, Bordeaux and Nantes.
Sit on the edge of the fountains and people-watch or take some photos, using the stately buildings as a backdrop. Among the most attractive structures in the square are the Hôtel de Crillon and the identical Hôtel de la Marine, headquarters of the French Navy. Separated by the rue Royale, these two buildings were originally commissioned by Louis XV to be used as palaces.
Place de la Concorde is served by the Concorde metro station. It can be reached on foot by walking in a westerly direction from the Louvre or by walking east along the Champs-Élysées.