Place des Vosges, Paris, France, 2012

Henri IV's interest in urban planning should be seen in the light of his desire to reorganize the kingdom. The king wanted to breathe new life into France's cities by launching major urban policy projects, and embellish them by building public monuments. "I love my city of Paris like my eldest daughter." … " and furthermore to "render this city beautiful and full of as many goods and ornaments as possible". In the winter of 1604–05, Henri IV conceived his first large-scale project. He wanted to create a square on the site of the park of the former Hôtel Royal des Tournelles. The building of the Place Royale (now the Place des Vosges) was launched by letters published in July 1605. They called for the construction of a vast, mostly enclosed square (140 x 140 metres) bordered by tall, identical townhouses.

The result is a symmetrical square surrounded by buildings with red brick and white stone facades, steep slate roofs and dorm windows, all constructed over arcades.

The royal pavilion at the centre of the southern side, the so-called King's Pavilion, was built on top of a gateway. At the northern side mirroring the king's pavilion is the queen's pavilion. The square was officially inaugurated in 1612 as the Place Royale. At that time merely a lawn, it was a favorite place for duels. In 1639 Richelieu had an equestrian statue of King Louis XIII erected at the centre of the square. It was destroyed during the French Revolution but a new statue of King Louis XIII was installed in 1825.

In 1800 Napoleon changed the name of the square to Place des Vosges to show his gratitude towards the Vosges department, the first department in France to pay taxes. Many famous Frenchmen lived at this square, among them cardinal Richelieu and writer Victor Hugo.

Place des Vosges today has very prominent spot in the posh le Marais district, very important stop for tourists wandering true this area and with its excellent restaurants under the surrounding arcades it is a "must" to be visited.

On the map from 1713 [bellow] square is marked with red overlay standing on the edge of 18th century Paris.

Tip for visitors: From the excellent restaurant under arcades you can comfortably enjoy Mona Lisa displayed in the window instead of fighting with thousands of tourists in the Louvre Museum! [large photo bellow map].

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