The Place de la Concorde, located at the eastern end of the Champs Elysees, has a rich history of turmoil and reconciliation. At more than 860,000 square feet, it is the largest public square in Paris, and it is home to several magnificent buildings, beautiful fountains, regal statues, and the Obelisk of Luxor. Other nearby attractions include the Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the Champs Elysees, the Church of the Madeleine within the square, and of course, the Avenue des Champs Elysees itself.
The Concorde Square in Paris has become a gorgeous spectacle at the end of the most famous avenue in the world. Originally designed in 1755 as an octagonal plaza encircled by a moat and named Place Louis XV in honor of the reigning king, the area was filled with statues and fountains, with a statue of Louis XV as the central attraction. Several years later, two identical buildings were constructed shoulder to shoulder, separated by the Rue Royale, serving as government offices; shortly after its completion, the western building was converted into the Hotel de Crillon, which is still in operation today, though it served for a short period as the German headquarters during occupation in WWII.
The statue of Louis XV was destroyed during the French Revolution, and the name of the Concorde Square in Paris was changed to the Place de la Revolution. Like the Place de Greve, which was the site of public executions in previous centuries, the square became synonymous with these deaths. The guillotine was erected in the plaza, where several notable members of royalty and nobility, and some innocent victims as well, were condemned and executed publicly, including King Louis XVI, Queen Marie Antoinette, Madame Elizabeth, and Maximilien Robespierre. Thousands of people were executed by guillotine in Paris during the Reign of Terror, led by Robespierre and ending in 1794, and the months after. One year later, the revolution took on a different direction, and the guillotine was removed from the square, making way for a feeling of reconciliation and a new name, Place de la Concorde.
The Concorde Square in Paris offers several features, from shining specimen of mid-1700s architecture in the twin buildings to dramatic fountains to the illustrious Obelisk of Luxor. Visitors can arrive at the square from nearly any direction, but the most popular remains via the Champs Elysees to the west. The Tuileries Gardens can be found at the eastern end of the plaza. The French Naval Ministry and the Hotel de Crillon constitute the two identical structures; beyond these buildings, visitors will find the Church of the Madeleine. For those in need of the United States Embassy, it can be found at the intersection of Avenue Gabriel and Rue Boissy d’Anglas.
One of the most striking and important features of the Place de la Concorde is the obelisk itself, taken from the entrance of the Egyptian Temple of Luxor, which was originally constructed in honor of Ramses II. Two of these structures were declared as the property of France in the early nineteenth century, but only one was brought to France, while the other remained in Egypt and ownership was eventually returned to its native country. Made entirely of red granite, the obelisk stands on the very location where the guillotine once stood.
Visitors to the 8th arrondissement have a variety of attractions available, and the Place de la Concorde is just one of the sites that's worth visiting during a Parisian vacation. The Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue de Champs Elysees, making it easy to combine a charming morning spent learning about French history with fine dining at the many restaurants and shopping at the high-end boutiques. There are numerous hotels in the area as well, ensuring that you can be within walking distance of such illustrious historical sites if you choose.