Place du Châtelet is worth paying attention to during a tour of Paris, especially since it is located at the intersection of various tourist routes. It is located on the border of the 1st and 4th arrondissements of the French capital and is an important transport hub in Paris. An interesting architectural ensemble is located around the square, and the Victory Fountain is installed in the middle, moreover, it has a very interesting history.
What to see
In the middle of the Châtelet square rises the tallest of the surviving fountains, which were built during the time of Napoleon I. The construction of the fountain was completed in 1808. It is called the Victory Fountain and commemorates the victories of the French army under the leadership of Napoleon. It is based on a round pool with a diameter of 6 m. In the middle of the fountain there is an 18-meter column in the shape of a palm tree trunk.
At the top of the pedestal is a gilded statue of the goddess Nike holding a laurel wreath in both hands. The figure of the goddess of victory stands on a base decorated with bas-reliefs of eagles. At the base of the fountain there are four allegorical figures resembling sphinxes. They symbolize Strength, Justice, Vigilance and Prudence. On the fountain, you can also see scenes of Napoleon's victories during the siege of Danzig (1807), the battle near the Egyptian pyramids (1798), the Italian cities of Lodi (1796) and Marengo (1800), as well as near the Austrian Ulm (1805).
Art connoisseurs can visit one of the two theaters, which were built in the middle of the 19th century. The basis of the repertoire of the city theater is modern choreographic performances. Musicals are staged at the Châtelet Theater and it is often used for jazz and classical music concerts. It is in the Châtelet Theater that the ceremony of presenting the César, France's highest cinematic award, takes place. The names of many Russian ballet masters are also associated with the Shuttle Theater - at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, Diaghilev's "Russian Seasons" were regularly held here.
The history of the square
The Châtelet square owes its name to the fortification located in its place - the word Châtelet in medieval France meant "knight's castle".
In the 9th century, all of Paris was located on the Ile de la Cité, and the only way to get into the city was through a stone bridge built back in the days of the Roman Empire. The old bridge connecting the Ile de la Cité with the right bank of the Seine was located on the site of the current Notre Dame bridge. When the Roman structure was destroyed during one of the attacks of the Normans, a new wooden bridge was built a little upstream, on the site of which the Changer Bridge stands today. To protect it from the warlike Normans, a fortress was built - the Grand Chatelet, that is, a large castle. At the same time, the castle of Petit-Chatelet (that is, a small castle) was built, which protected the bridge on the left bank of the Seine. The modern Chalet Square is located on the site of the Grand Chatelet.
Over time, Paris grows in size, and castles cease to play a defensive role. During the time of Philip II, who ruled at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, a new fortress wall was built around the borders of Paris, and the inner castles are used as prisons.
In the 19th century, the old fortresses were destroyed by order of Napoleon. Until our time, only the Château de Vincennes and part of the castle of the Concierge have survived. To decorate the empty Châtelet Square, Napoleon ordered a fountain to be installed on it in honor of his victories.
The area of Châtelet underwent significant changes during the time when Baron Haussmann was the prefect of Paris. In 1860-1862, by his decree, two theaters with identical facades were built on the square. If you look from the Ile de la Cité, there is the Châtelet Theater on the left, and in front of it is the City Theater, which was named after Sarah Bernhardt before the Nazi occupation.
During the Paris Commune, the Châtelet square became the scene of violent battles. Barricades were erected on it and battles were in full swing between the Versaillese and the Communards, and after the victory of the Versailles, it was on the Place de Châtelet that the trial of the Communards took place.
Address: 75001 Paris
You can get to the Châtelet square by metro.
Chatelet station accepts trains on the lines M1, M4, M7, M11, M14.