Place de Ville (La place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville - Esplanade de la Libération) in Paris


The Place de Ville is located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris on the banks of the Seine in front of the City Hall. Until 1803, it was called Greve Square. In April 2013, the Place de Ville was renamed to commemorate the liberation of Paris on the night of August 25-26, 1944, as the Place des Liberation.

Pages of history and urban planning

The main reason for the formation of the Place de Ville was the low bank of the Seine, extremely convenient for unloading boats and ships loaded with wheat, wine, wood and other goods. This space, at the request of the townspeople, was never built up in accordance with a special royal decree of Louis VII in 1147.

The first building of the city hall of Paris was built near the square in 1357 at the suggestion of the prefect E. Marseille. In the 16th century after returning from an Italian campaign, King Francis I, impressed by the architecture of Italian cities, ordered the construction of a new building for the city hall in the Renaissance style. The new project was ready in 1533, but its full implementation was delayed until 1628.

Since the Middle Ages, the square has been a kind of labor exchange, where workers of various specialties rushed in search of earnings. Since 1413, there was a coal market on it, which in 1642 was replaced by wholesale and retail trade in wine.

During the July Revolution of 1830, the Place de Ville was the site of the most violent clashes between the insurgents and government forces. Until the moment of the victory of the revolutionaries, she and the city hall building several times found themselves in the hands of the opposing sides.

Originally, the area was about 25% smaller than its current size and had an almost trapezoidal shape with a south-facing base. In the 19th century the square occupied the space between the Peletier docks, the Town Hall embankment (Le quai de l'Hôtel-de-Ville), Mouton streets (La rue du Mouton) and Tixeranderie (Rue de la Tixéranderie).

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The square takes its present shape in the second half of the 19th century. during the great urban transformations of Baron Osman. On the north side, it was continued to Rivoli Street (Rue de Rivoli), and in the west to Rue de Renard (Rue du Renard). During the reconstruction of the square, the houses along the streets of Mouton and Jean del Epine (rue Jean-de-l'Épine) were demolished. At the beginning of the 21st century its dimensions are 155 m long and 82 m wide.

Place of execution

Reliable information about the time from which Greve Square became a place of public executions has not survived to this day. The earliest documents concerning the punitive measures of the church and state against criminals and dissidents date back to the first half of the 13th century. In 1240, 20 carts of the Talmud, sacred to the Jews, were publicly destroyed on fire in the square, but this was no longer an isolated case.

The first documented execution on the square took place in 1310, when M. Porett was burned for heretical beliefs. For many centuries, various types of executions were applied to those sentenced to death, depending on their social status and the crimes committed. Commoners were sentenced to be hanged, aristocrats - to beheading with a sword or ax, heretics and sorcerers were burned at the stake, and sentenced to the wheel for treason.

In the southern part of the square in the 14th century. a stone cross was erected, intended for the last prayers of people sentenced to death. Prayers were also addressed in his direction during the days of great floods.

Executions continued into the late 18th century. after the French Revolution, but at that time the guillotine became the executioner's tool. It was first installed on the square in 1792. The last person to be executed at the Hotel de Ville on July 22, 1830, was the robber and murderer JP. Martin. After this event, the place of executions was moved to the end of the Rue Faubourg-Saint-Jean.

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Entertainment and sights in the past and present

From the 12th century Folk festivals were regularly held on the square. It traditionally celebrated the feast of St. John on the day of the summer solstice until 1648, when Louis XIV condemned him for pagan rituals.

The main event of the holiday was a strange and cruel ceremony. During it, a tall tree was erected on the square, the branches of which were decorated with flower garlands and wreaths. Closed baskets with 20 live cats and foxes were also hung on it.

As soon as the trumpets announced the arrival at the feast of the provost of Paris and the king, a monk approached the tree and lit it with a torch. After the fire burned out, the king treated the people with sweets and candied fruits.

Since 1982, the square has been declared a pedestrian zone. In 2004 and 2011, most of the square was converted to play volleyball. In winter, an extensive ice rink is poured on it. During major international sporting events, giant screens are set up in the square to broadcast these events free of charge.

Since 2009, on the banks of the Seine near the square, free concerts have been held every summer as part of the Fnac Indétendances festival, during which young performers present their new music albums to fans.

Place Hotel de Ville is also a traditional venue for protests on social issues and current political issues. In the 21st century especially significant were the mass protests against the reform of higher education and the reduction of donor rights.

Getting there

Address: place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville, Paris 75004
Underground : Hôtel de Ville