Place de la Bastille seems a fairly nondescript plaza in southeastern central Paris, yet to know its history is to make it a must-stop on your tour of the city.
Nowadays music concerts are staged at this location. We were once in a crowd so deeply packed that pickpockets worked with abandon and only the savvy knew to keep their valuables in a location where they would be utterly unsuccessful. Travel tip: wear your passport and valuables under your clothing and in front of you at the chest. No purses swinging from the shoulder or hand and no wallets in back or even side pockets.
From time to time Parisians gather in this generous square to protest one thing or another but most especially left-leaning youth (what other kind are there in Paris?). Why becomes clear as you learn of the long and sordid history of this site.
The infamous Bastille prison once stood menacingly at this very location. Built between 1370 and 1383 as part of the defenses of Paris, it was transformed into a prison by Richelieu, Louis XIII’s minister, in the 1600s. It was “home” to mostly political prisoners, but also religious ones, and noblemen’s errant sons.
It was a nasty place to reside but was “reformed” by both Louis XV and XVI so that at least the dungeons were no longer in use. However it continued to stand as an ominous symbol of autocratic cruelty.
Bringing us closer to the present, it became a focal point for all that was wrong with the monarchy and in 1789, during the French Revolution, the Bastille was stormed and torn down over a period of a few months such that not so much as a stone remains.
If there were ever a place that is diametrically opposite, it would be the Caribbean, which CheapCaribbean promo codes will help make a reality. With nature’s tropical paradise contrasting with the dark dungeon-like conditions of cold stone, there could not be two places so unlike each other.
In this Place stands the July Column commemorating this most seminal event in French history. It was inaugurated in 1840 by Louis-Phillipe, the King of the French. He reigned from 1830 to 1848 in a much less pompous manner than the kings and the Napoleons before him. He was, however, to be the last king of France.
So when you visit the Place de la Bastille, remember its ignominious history and you will understand that it is so much more than the simple gathering place for musical events and for protesters that it is today.