Medici Column in Paris


The Doric Column of the Medici (Colonne Médicis) in the Le Al gardens area is one of the least known to tourists tourists historical and cultural monuments of the late Renaissance.

From the depths of centuries

The mysterious column surrounded by a mystical halo is the only part of the palace of Catherine de Medici that has been preserved to date, built in the 1572-1574 years according to the project of the architect J. Bullan on the site of the more ancient Orleans palace.

After the death of Queen Catherine, her palace was acquired in 1601 by the sister of Henry IV, Catherine of Bourbon, and a little later, until the 18th century. it belonged to Count Charles of Soissons and his descendants. Subsequently, the Soissons Palace became the property of Prince de Carignan Thomas of Savoy. In 1748, his ruined heir, Victor-Amadeus de Savoie, was forced to sell the palace, which was soon demolished.

The Medici column from destruction was saved by its acquisition by the writer Louis de Bachemon, but he could not prevent the construction in 1763-1767 years on the site of the palace of the grain exchange. After its completion, the building which had previously stood apart from the Queen's residence turned out to be partially integrated into the wall of the new building and lost some of its originality. At the end of the XIX century. the building of the old exchange was occupied by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Dominated by the magic of stars

A doric column with 18 flutes 31 m high and about 3 m in diameter was built by order of Catherine de Medici in the courtyard of the palace. During its construction, J. Bullan was inspired by the famous Troyan column in Rome.

The main purpose of the column was the placement of a tiny observatory for the court magician and astrologer Cosimo Ruggeri who was observing the starry sky. It is possible that she also served as a watch tower.

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To the top of the column, where the observatory used to be, leads a spiral staircase of 147 steps built inside it. The area of ​​the upper platform is only 4 m2. The old observatory has not been preserved and now a small pavilion with a spire has been installed instead. According to the original design, it was possible to get into the tower directly from the palace without going out into the courtyard along a metal bridge.

Architectural style and decor

The exterior decor of the Medici column uses images of the cornucopia and plant patterns of lily flowers. On the surface of the column is also a monogram of Catherine de Medici and Henry II. At its center is a massive bas-relief consisting of a royal crown and a shield depicting a ship framed by a ribbon with grapes.

After the acquisition of the Medici column by the city in 1750, a fountain was built in its lower part, which is now inoperative. In 1764, at a height of 16 m, a sundial created by the astrologer Alexander G. Pinare was fixed on the tower. Around 1888, they were dismantled from the tower.

At the base of the column, by decision of the mayor's office, a commemorative plaque with an inscription in Latin was installed. Its text refers to the construction of the Medici column at the end of the 16th century. architect D. Bullan and the demolition of the palace in 1749 during the construction of the grain exchange.

In 1862, the Medici column was included in the list of historical monuments of Paris. For security reasons, access to the inside of the column is now closed, so it can only be viewed from the side of Viance Street, which is enveloping the stock exchange.

Getting there

Address: 2 rue de Viarmes, Paris 75001.
Metro: Les Halles, Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre.
Bus: Louvre - Etienne Marcel.