Place de la Bastille – A popular Parisian square, steeped in a rich and fascinating history

Place de la Bastille – A popular Parisian square, steeped in a rich and fascinating history

Boasting an incredible history which dates all the way back to the 14th century, the Place de la Bastille is one of Paris’ most iconic squares and is definitely worthy of a visit.

Once the home to the renowned Bastille Fortress which was famously stormed in the late 1700s, the square is nowadays used to host public events and is where the city’s impressive Bastille Opera House can be found. Bordering several arrondissements of the city and within close proximity to many of our Paris holiday apartments, the Place de la Bastille (Bastille Square) boasts a remarkable history which began in the late 1300s and is a place well-known for its role in the French Revolution.

Following the 100 Year War, which ended in 1356, the French authorities decided to create a stronghold to protect the city from any further invasion. It was here, upon this very square, that the Bastille Fortress was built to serve this purpose. It was a huge building with 4 metre wide walls and eight large towers. During the 17th century, the Bastille was transformed into a prison, which was said to house the enemies of King.

On July 14th 1789, the Bastille was famously stormed by a crowd of protestors who decided to revolt against the monarchy, marking the start of the French Revolution. At the time of capturing the Bastille only seven prisoners remained inside, all of whom were subsequently freed by the crowd. Each year, on the anniversary of the date, a national holiday known as Bastille Day is held in France to celebrate. Following the storming of the Bastille, the entire building was completely demolished, with the only remains being a few foundation stones which can be viewed beneath the square in the metro station.

Nowadays, the Place de la Bastille is a far cry from its previous state and is often used as a venue to host public events and concerts. To one side of the square is a delightful marina which is often filled with charming pleasure boats, together with the picturesque St Martin Canal which is brimming with some truly stunning scenery. To the north of the square is a public park, which is often the setting for regular open air markets which offer a variety of produce.

Proudly standing at the centre of the Place de la Bastille is the iconic July Column (Colonne de Juillet), which was erected in the mid-1800s to commemorate the ‘three glorious days ‘of the Revolution of 1830. Measuring an impressive 52 metres high, the landmark is inscribed with the names of those who lost their lives during the revolution and is topped by the striking ‘Spirit of Liberty’ statue.

Together with a busy metro station, which provides excellent public transport links throughout the city, Place de la Bastille is also the home to the fabulous Bastille Opera House. This modern theatre opened to the public in July 1989 and was built as part of the celebrations marking the 200 year anniversary since the start of the French Revolution. The opera house can accommodate up to 2700 spectators and provides visitors with an incredible evening of unforgettable performances.