By the middle of the twelfth century, King Philippe Auguste (1165–1223)
Side view of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris (1163), a world-famous example of Gothic architecture. ()
turned Paris into a true medieval city with a protective wall around it. He built his castle, which was little more than a fortress on the site of the modern-day Louvre. No one knows what the word Louvre means, except that it is thought to come from the Latin word for wolves. Philippe housed his wolf-hunting dogs in the fortress. The Middle Ages saw the beginning of the construction of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris (1163), one of the most famous examples of Gothic architecture, and the founding of one of the greatest universities in the world, the University of Paris. The city of Paris, surrounded by walls, still was contained on the Ile de la Cité in the middle of the River Seine.
Gradually the city of Paris became so heavily populated that the walls were erected further and further out to accommodate the growing community. The last of these protective walls was razed in 1919 by the government of the Third Republic. The kings of France slowly enlarged and modernized the Louvre to become the palace of kings. The French Revolution (1789–93) was a turning point for the modernization of Paris. During that turbulent period, there were riots in the streets, and the people barricaded the narrow, winding streets to thwart the power of the government. The reign of Emperor Napoleon I (1769–1821) saw the building of monuments and the creation of a modern sewer system, which beautified and cleansed the city. The brief restoration of the monarchy (1848–1870) saw the rebuilding of Paris from a medieval town to a city of breathtaking beauty and grandeur. Under the leadership of Baron Haussmann (1809–1891), the boulevards were widened so that they could no longer be easily barricaded. Parks and monuments were created; the Louvre was completed; the Opera house was built; and an extensive system of sewers was constructed. The city was at that time organized into its present-day 20 arrondissements. Building codes were enforced to keep the neo-classical look and to maintain a low building height.
In 1889, the World's Fair came to Paris, which unveiled the newest crowning glory, the Eiffel Tower. At the time of its construction, it was thought to be a monstrosity, and the French people wanted it torn down immediately. The tower outlasted the controversy to become the symbol of Paris. In 1900, Paris joined London in the construction of the subway (the Métropolitain). The metro stations at the turn of the century were beautiful examples of Art Deco, with intricately designed ironwork gates. Some of these still exist today.
During World War II, the city of Paris was almost destroyed by German bombs. Miraculously, Paris survived the war intact. All of the treasures in the Louvre art museum were hidden by the French people during the war, so they would not be taken by the invading German army. The government of General Charles de Gaulle brought the French government to the present Fifth Republic.
Modern-day Paris is truly a feast for all of the senses. The classical beauty of the city is breathtaking at night when many of the monuments are lighted. A new opera house has been added at the former location of La Bastille (a political prison during the French Revolution), and some high-rise buildings have been constructed outside the central area. Basically, Paris remains true to the architectural plans of Baron Haussmann. The wide, main boulevards are crowded with people 24 hours a day. One can relax in a sidewalk café or visit any number of the many museums Paris has to offer. The cuisine is delicious, whether from a café or an elegant five-star restaurant. Shoppers can find the very latest in fashion or browse the flea markets for a bargain. New urban renewal during the 1990s saw the renovation of the Beaubourg area with the destruction of Les Halles (a central market place) and the creation of the Centre Pompidou (arts) in its place. New business centers in La Défense have been added to the International Communication Center. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Paris has retained all the allure, mystery, and romance of its fabled past. That is why Paris is the number one destination for travelers around the world.
Brief History of Paris ;
- Tim Lambert-
Ancient and Medieval Paris
The city of Paris began in the 3rd century BC when a Celtic tribe called the Parisii built a fortified settlement on the Ile de la Cite.
The Romans conquered the Parisii in 52 AD and they built a town on the River Seine. The Romans called Paris Lutetia. However Roman Paris was not a particularly large or important town. It had a population of not more than 10,000.
In the late 3rd century Paris and the surrounding region were converted to Christianity. However by then the Roman Empire was in decline. In 486 a race called the Franks captured Paris.
Under the Franks Paris flourished. In 845 the Vikings raided Paris. The French king paid them 7,000 pounds of silver to leave. But from the 11th century onward Paris prospered again. In the Middle Ages Paris grew rapidly and it became one of the largest towns in Europe. Its population probably reached 200,000 (that might seem small to us but it was huge by Medieval standards). King Philippe-Auguste (1180-1223) built a wall around Paris. He also built the Louvre fortress.
Medieval Paris was also a busy inland port with goods being brought to and from its wharves along the Seine. Paris was also noted for its scholars. Paris University became famous. Meanwhile from the late 12th century onward the most famous cathedral in Paris, the Cathedral de Notre Dame was built.
However in 1338 the Hundred Years War between France and England began and in 1348 Paris was devastated by the Black Death. In 1357 the mayor of Paris Etienne Marcel led a rebellion in Paris to try and gain more rights for Parisian merchants. However Royalist forces captured Paris in 1358 and Marcel and his followers were executed. In 1420 the English captured Paris. However the French recaptured the town in 1436.
Paris gradually recovered from the Hundred Years War and in 1528 King Francois I moved his court to the town. Once again Paris boomed. Meanwhile in the 16th century the Reformation swept France. French Protestants were cruelly persecuted. The persecution reached a peak in 1572 with the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre. About 2,000 Protestants in Paris were murdered by Catholics.
Then in 1589 King Henry III was assassinated leaving a Protestant, Henry of Navarre heir to the throne of France. Many Catholics refused to accept Henri, however and he had to fight for his throne. Yet in 1593 he converted to Catholicism and in 1594 he entered Paris.
King Henry IV began building great public buildings in Paris. He also built the Pont Neuf in 1607. Henry was assassinated by a Catholic fanatic in 1610 but his widow built the Palais de Luxembourg. The Palais Royal was built in 1629 by Cardinal Richelieu.
Building great buildings in Paris continued under Louis XIV in the late 17th century (although he moved to the palace of Versailles outside the city). However there were two sides to Paris. Alongside the splendid buildings there were many cafes and Paris was famous for its philosophers. However there was also a great deal of severe poverty in Paris. The poor lived in squalor.
Paris After 1789
Paris was, of course, at the center of the French Revolution which broke out in 1789. On the morning of 14 July 1789 Parisians seized cannons and guns from the Invalides (a hospital for military veterans). They then surrounded a fortress and prison called the Bastille. The governor was forced to surrender. To the ordinary people the Bastille was enormously important as a symbol of royal power and arbitrary government.
From September 1793 the Great Terror swept France. In the next 9 months thousands of people were guillotined in Paris. Meanwhile in September 1793 a movement called De-Christianization began. Churches were vandalized and closed. The church of Notre-Dame was renamed the 'Temple of Reason'. However the Terror ended in the late summer of 1794. Thousands of prisoners were released and life gradually returned to normal.
Napoleon became ruler of France in 1799. He built Pont des Arts. He also built the Arc de Triomphe and La Madeleine. However allied armies occupied Paris in 1814.
In 1830 another revolution took place in Paris. Louis Philippe became constitutional monarch of France. In the mid 19th century the Industrial Revolution began to transform France. Paris boomed but many of its inhabitants lived in dire poverty. In 1832 cholera killed 20,000 people in the city.
In 1848 discontent in Paris resulted in another revolution and Napoleon III took power in France. During his reign, which lasted until 1870 parts of Paris were rebuilt. Baron Haussmann was responsible for demolishing much of Paris and building new streets. Economically Paris boomed and its population grew rapidly.
On 19 September 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War Prussian troops reached Paris and laid siege to the city. In the next 4 months Parisians were reduced to near starvation and the city surrendered on 28 January. The French government made a formal peace treaty with the Prussians but the Parisians objected to its terms and they rose in revolt on 18 March 1871. A government called the Paris Commune was formed in the city. The French government sent troops and after weeks of street by street fighting the rebellion was crushed. Afterwards thousands of Communards were executed.
Paris soon recovered and it prospered in the late 19th century. The Eiffel Tower was unveiled in 1889 and the Metro opened in 1900.
Paris escaped the First World War relatively unscathed. In the 1920s and 1930s Paris again prospered. However on 14 June 1940 Paris fell to the Germans. On 19 August 1944 Paris rose in rebellion and on 25 August allied forces entered the city.
In May 1968 Paris was rocked by student riots but stability soon returned. In the late 20th century new buildings were erected in Paris such as the Tour Montparnasse in 1973 and the Hôtel Concorde Lafayette in 1974. The Pompidou Center was built in 1977. Today Paris is a flourishing city and tourism is booming. Les Quatre Temps Shopping Mall was founded in 1981. Beaugrenelle Shopping Mall opened in 2013. Today the population of Paris is 2.2 million.