Monday, October 23, 2006

Paris - Place Vendôme

Place Vendome was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The sqaure was named after the residence (hôtel) of César, duc de Vendôme, the illegitimate son of Henri IV and his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrées. It is octagonal in shape and surrounded by buildings with large arches on the lower floor. Famous buildings on the square include the Hotel Ritz (no. 15) and the house where Chopin died in 1849 (no. 12).

In the centre stands a column erected by Napoleon, modelled after Trajan's Column, to celebrate the victory of Austerlitz. Its spiralling veneers of bas-relief bronze plates (by the sculptor Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret) were made out of cannon taken from the combined armies of Europe, according to his propaganda. After the Bourbon Restoration the statue of the Emperor was pulled from the top of the column and refinished as a statue of Henri IV. A replacement statue of Napoleon, however, was erected by Louis-Philippe, and another classic statue of Napoleon I by Louis-Napoleon.

Sources: Les Cars Rouges, Wikipedia: Place Vendôme

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