La Conciergerie is a former palace and prison which is located to the west of Île de la Cité, not far from the Notre Dame cathedral. The building of La Conciergerie was built in gothic architecture, a style that was quite famous in that era.
La Conciergerie does not stand alone. It is actually a part of a bigger tourist attraction called Palais de Justice, a government building which is used for judicial purposes. Tourists come to this site to see the prison which serves as a witness of French history. It was in this prison hundreds of prisoners with guillotine sentence were incarcerated.
History of La Conciergerie
Although more famous as a former prison nowadays, La Conciergerie was initially built as a royal palace. Its location in the west part of the island was the throne of Kings of France in medieval era between 10th and 14th century. The palace, which is also known as the Merovingian palace, was then undergone renovations and extensions during King Louis IX and King Philippe IV.
The notable addition made by King Louis IX is the famous Sainte-Chapelle and some galleries associated with the chapel. The chapel was intended to serve as royal chapel so that it was built in the French royal style. Meanwhile, King Philippe IV created the large hall and the façade along the river. The grand hall of the palace was recorded as the largest hall in the Europe at that time. The hall could hold the 2,000 staff who worked in the palace. Its unique section, a lower story which is known as “La salle des gens d’armes” still survives until now in 64 m x 27.5 m x 8.5 m dimension. Unfortunately, its large windows which were used to light up the room were now blocked.
The Video Inside La Conciergerie, Paris
Although Valois Kings continued to use the palace as its residence, King Charles V who ruled in the 14 century decided to move the center of the throne across the Seine river. The palace was abandoned and used only for administrative purposes. Worse, the once glorified palace was then used as a prison starting from 1391. Le Conciergerie also played an important role in French Revolution as the venue of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Around more than 2,600 criminals and political prisoners, including the infamous Queen of France Marie-Antoinette, were detained there before they were beheaded due to death sentence they received. Some other prominent figures who were sentenced to death in this prison were Madame du Barry, Charlotte Corday, and Andre Chenier.
La Conciergerie Today
The Conciergerie resigned its horror image and was decommissioned in 1914. Since that year, it serves no more as a prison but as a national historical monument. Nevertheless, only small part of the building is open to public. Some of the building areas are also still used for Paris law courts until now.
Today, people visit La Conciergerie for its superb gothic architecture buildings and its grand hall. The beautiful royal chapel is also another irresistible attraction for tourists while the façade along the Seine river serves as soothing view.
Visiting La Conciergerie
To visit La Conciergerie, the best way is by Paris metro line 4 at Cite station or line 1 at Chatelet station.
Museum Tickets are :
Adult: 8.50 euro
Reduced rate : 5.50 euro
Ticket for Sainte-Chapelle + La Conciergerie
Adult rate : 12.50 euro
Reduced rate : 8.50 euro
Because of high enthusiasm of tourists in visiting this monument, it is recommended that you buy the museum ticket earlier to avoid long queue.