Place du Carrousel  

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The Place du Carrousel (ka-ru-zel) is a public square in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, located at the open end of the courtyard of the Louvre museum, a space occupied, prior to 1871, by the Tuileries Palace. Sitting directly between the museum and the Tuileries Garden, the Place du Caroussel delineates the eastern end of the gardens just as the Place de la Concorde defines its western end.

The name "carrousel" refers to a type of military dressage, an equine demonstration now commonly called military drill. The Place du Carrousel was named in 1662, when it was used for such a display by Louis XIV.



On 5 October 1789, a mob from Paris descended upon Versailles and forced the royal family — Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and their children, along with the comte de Provence (later king Louis XVIII), his wife, and Madame Elisabeth, the youngest sister of the king — to move to Paris under the watchful eye of the Garde Nationale. The king and queen were installed in the Tuileries Palace under surveillance. During this time, there were many plots designed to help members of the royal family escape from France. The queen rejected several because she would not leave without the king. Other opportunities to rescue the family were ultimately frittered away by the indecisive king. After many delays, the escape ultimately occurred on 21 June 1791, and it was a failure. The entire family was captured twenty-four hours later at Varennes and taken back to Paris within a week

On 20 June 1792, "a mob of terrifying aspect" broke into the Tuileries and made the king wear the bonnet rouge (red Phrygian cap) to show his loyalty to France.

The vulnerability of the king was exposed on 10 August of that year when an armed mob, on the verge of forcing its way into the Tuileries Palace, forced the king and the royal family to seek refuge at the Legislative Assembly. An hour and a half later, the palace was invaded by the mob. They massacred the Swiss Guards, who fought with blind dedication and desperation. Some seven hundred were killed, and their bloodied bodies decorated the yard in front of the palace (in the place then known as the Cours du Carrousel), in the gardens of the palace, and along the banks of the Seine. On 13 August, the royal family was imprisoned in the tower of the Temple in the Le Marais district, under conditions considerably harsher than their previous confinement in the Tuileries.

On 21 August 1792, the guillotine was erected in the Place du Carrousel, and it remained there, with two short interruptions, until 11 May 1793. In total, thirty-five people were guillotined there.

On 2 August 1793, at the former site of the guillotine, a wooden pyramid was constructed as a tribute to Jean-Paul Marat. It bore an inscription: "To the spirit of the late Marat, 13 July, year I. From his underground tomb, he still makes the traitors tremble. A treacherous hand thwarted the affections of the people." There was also an exhibit of the famous hip bath of Marat and his desk where some of his most impassioned polemics were drafted. These items stayed in place until 9 Thermidor Year II (28 July 1794).

During the revolution of 1848, the Tuileries Palace was looted and severely damaged by rioters. On 23 May 23 1871, during the suppression of the Paris Commune, twelve men under the orders of a Communard, Dardelle, set the Tuileries on fire at seven in the evening, using petroleum, liquid tar, and turpentine. The fire lasted for forty-eight hours and entirely consumed the palace. The ruins of the Tuileries stood on the site for eleven years. In 1882, the French National Assembly voted for the demolition of the ruins, and, despite much contrary sentiment, this was accomplished in 1883. The salvageable remains of the building were sold to a private entrepreneur.

Once the palace had been cleared away, the ground, which had been known as the "Place du Carrousel" since 1662, could, once again, be used as a public square.

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

With the disappearance of the palace, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, built between 1806 and 1808 to serve as an entrance of honor at the Tuileries, became the dominant feature of the Place du Carrousel. It is a triumphal arch that was commissioned in 1806 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories of the previous year. The more famous Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile nearby was designed in the same year, but it took thirty years to build, and it is about twice as massive.

Description of the Arch

The monument is Template:Convert high, Template:Convert wide, and Template:Convert deep.<ref>Lynnise Phillips - Pomona College; USA: </ref> The Template:Convert high central arch is flanked by two smaller ones, Template:Convert high. Around its exterior are eight Corinthian columns of granite, topped by eight soldiers of the Empire. On the pediment, between the soldiers, bas-reliefs depict:

  • the Arms of the Kingdom of Italy with figures representing History and the Arts
  • the Arms of the French Empire with Victory, Fame, History, and Abundance
  • Wisdom and Strength holding the arms of the Kingdom of Italy, accompanied by Prudence and Victory.

Napoleon's diplomatic and military victories are commemorated by bas-reliefs executed in rose marble. They depict the Peace of Pressburg, Napoleon entering Munich, Napoleon entering Vienna, the Battle of Austerlitz, the Tilsit Conference, and the surrender of Ulm.

The arch is, of course, derivative of the triumphal arches of the Roman Empire; in particular that of Septimius Severus in Rome. The subjects of the bas-reliefs devoted to the battles were selected by the director of the Napoleon Museum (located at the time in the Louvre), Vivant Denon, and designed by Charles Meynier.

The quadriga atop the arch is a copy of the so-called Horses of Saint Mark that adorn the top of the main door of the St Mark's Basilica in Venice.

History of the Arch

[[File:Hippolyte Bellangé - Un jour de revue sous l’Empire - 1810.jpg|thumb|left|250px|Military review in front of the Tuileries, by Hippolyte Bellangé]] Designed by Charles Percier and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine, the arch was built between 1806 and 1808 by the Emperor Napoleon I on the model of the Arch of Constantine (312 AD) in Rome.

It was originally surmounted by the famous horses of Saint Mark's Cathedral in Venice, which had been captured in 1798 by Napoleon. In 1815, following the Battle of Waterloo and the Bourbon restoration, France ceded the quadriga to the Austrian empire which had annexed Venice under the terms of the Congress of Vienna. The Austrians immediately returned the statuary to its original place in Venice. The horses were replaced in 1828 by a quadriga sculpted by Baron François Joseph Bosio, depicting Peace riding in a triumphal chariot led by gilded Victories on both sides. The composition commemorates the Restoration of the Bourbons following Napoleon's downfall.


The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is at the eastern end of the so-called Axe historique ("grand historic axis") of Paris, a nine-kilometre-long linear route which dominates much of the northwestern quadrant of the city. It is, in effect, the backbone of the Right Bank.

Looking west, the arch is perfectly aligned with the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, the centerline of the grand boulevard Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe at the Place de l'Étoile, and, although it is not directly visible from the Place du Carrousel, the Grande Arche de la Défense. Thus, the axis begins and ends with an arch. When the Arc du Carrousel was built, however, an observer in the Place du Carrousel was impeded from any view westward. The central block of the Palais des Tuileries intervened to block the line of sight to the west. When the Tuileries was burned down during the Paris Commune (1871) and its ruins were swept away, the great axis, as it presently exists, was opened all the way to the Place du Carrousel and the Louvre.

People guillotined in the Place du Carrousel


This site is served by the metro station named Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre.

See also

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