When you finally make it to the top of the Eiffel Tower, you may gaze across the Seine River and wonder what building is on the top of a hill over there. Well, it is Palais de Chaillot.
Palais de Challiot is a building located on the top of Chaillot hill, a hill located on Trocadero, an area in Paris across the Seine River which makes a good view from the Eiffel Tower. The location where the hill is located, Trocadero, is also the reason why the palais is also known as Trocadero.
History of Palais de Chaillot or Trocadero
Trocadero got its name when the French captured the Spanish fortified area in Cadiz during the Battle of Trocadero. Trocadero itself is actually the name of an island in the Bay of Cadiz or refers to a place for trading. When the France reestablished the Spain’s throne of the place, the square then was called Place du Trocadero.
Before the current Palais was built, an original Palais called Palais du Trocadero was built in 1878 for the World Expo that was held that year. The palais was built by architect Gabriel Davioud and inspired by the Moorish art and Byzantine elements which created a unique architecture to admire. The palais had a large concert hall with two wings and two towers.
There was a large organ built by Aristide Cavaille-Coll installed inside the concert hall before it was moved to Auditorium Maurice Ravel in Lyon in 1977. However, the one that stole the show in Palais the Trocadero was the large aquarium that was filled in with fish from French rivers placed under the building. Later, the aquarium was renovated in 1937 and 1985.
The area between the palais and Seine River was filled in with gardens that were designed by Jean-Charles Alphard. Inside the garden, there were two animal statues which later were removed due to the demolition of old Palais du Trocadero for the new one. They were then taken out from storage and placed next to the entrance of the Musee d’Orsay in 1986.
Palais de Chaillot Today
In 1937, Paris was chosen again to hold the World Fair. A new palais was then projected to be built for the new event. This time, the palais was designed to be modern by three architects, Jacques Carlu, Hippolyte Boileau, and Leon Azema. Built on the foundation of the old palace, the new palace has two wings forming a wide arc. In the center, there is a wide esplanade to give visitors chance to enjoy the Eiffel Tower at its best view. There are also large bronze statues of Apollo in front of one wing and of Hercules in front of another wing.
The building of Palais de Chaillot is decorated with quotations from Paul Valery. There are also sculptures by three prominent sculptors Raymond Delamarre, Carlo Sarrabezolles, and Alfred Bottiau decorating the attic level of the building. Eight gilded figures made by Alexandre Descatoire, Marcel Gimond, Jean Paris dit Pryas, Paul Cornet, Lucien Brasseur, Robert Couturier, Paul Niclausse, and Félix-Alexandre Desruelle to decorate the terrace.
Today, Palais de Chaillot is a place which houses various museums from anthropology, maritime history, cinema, and cinematheque. There are two museums in the south wing, Musée de la Marine (Naval Museum) and the Musée de l’Homme (The Museum of Man). Musée de la Marine is a museum for maritime collections that belong to Louis XV. The second one, Musée de l’Homme, is a museum which belongs to Museum of National History and currently is closed due to renovation until 2014.
Another interesting museum is the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, a museum which shows the beauty and grand of France architecture from Middle Ages until the 21st century. Inside, there are also collections of sculptures, building models, architechtural copies, and photographs from former Musée des Monuments Français. Below the esplanade, Théâtre National de Chaillot is ready to hold 1,200 viewers whenever there is a concert or play held.
Visiting Palais de Chaillot
Palais de Chaillot is located in Place du Trocadero, 75116 Paris. To get there, you can take Metro line 6 or 9 and stop at Trocadero Station.