Paris history

The capital of France since 508, Paris has a rich 2000 year history. Unlike other European cities, Paris has been mostly preserved from destructions, specially during the two 20th century World Wars. The result is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world. The history of Paris helps understand Paris as she is today.

Paris history: roman Lutecia

Lutecia, as Paris was then called, became Roman in 52 BC (before Christ). Lutecia was a prosperous town of about 8 000 inhabitants until 280 when Lutecia was first destroyed by Barbarians. During the roman times, Lyon was the capital of France, then named the Gaul.

The only remarkable remains of these times are the Roman Baths in the Museum of Middleages (see Paris map). and the Lutecia Arenas (see Paris map).

Paris history: the Roman forum in Lutecia
Paris history: the Roman forum in Lutecia

Paris history: Ile de la Cite in 1550

Paris history: the Middle Ages

With 200 000 inhabitants in 1328, Paris, the capital of France, was the most populous city of Europe.

The Kings had their main Palace on Ile de la Cite (Conciergerie today) and the first fortified Louvre.

The faithfull Parisians had built Notre-Dame, Sainte Chapelle and Saint Denis. The Sorbonne was established as a prominent university in Europe.

See Paris in 1380, Paris in 1500 or download detailed Paris plan in 1550 with many monuments visible today.

Paris history: the XVIIth century

With 400 000 inhabitants, Paris was the most populous city in the world. Under King Louis XIV, Paris extended herself to Le Marais and Invalides.

Louis XIV built the splendid Palace of Versailles near Paris as the testimony of his glory and power.

Paris then became the prominent European city for luxury, fashion, fine food and wine. She still is.

Download interesting Paris view of 1615 and recognize many monuments of today.

Paris history: Versailles
Paris history: taking of the Bastille prison on July 14th 1789
Paris history: taking of the Bastille prison on July 14th 1789

Paris history: 1789

Paris counted 650 000 inhabitants. The French revolution really started on July 14th with the taking of La Bastille prison (on the spot of Opera Bastille).

It lead to the fall of the monarchy in 1792, new liberties for the French people, but also tragedies such as wars, mass executions and the beheading of King Louis XVI on Place de la Concorde in 1793.

Paris history: Haussman

In 1866, Paris counted 1 600 000 inhabitants. The rapid rise of activity and population in Paris led Baron Haussman to undertake massive town planning between 1852 and 1870.

Paris train stations, most Paris boulevards, Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, Opera Garnier, the completion of the Louvre Museum are part of his testimony, visible everywhere today.

Paris history: Haussman style buildings in Paris
Paris history: Haussman style buildings in Paris
A Paris metro entrance
A Paris metro entrance

Paris history: the metro

At the end of 19th century, Paris grew feverly. The Eiffel Tower was built for 1889 World Exhibition. In 1900, metro line 1 was opened. Most Paris metro lines were completed before World War 1.

The Sacre Coeur Basilica was built between 1876 and 1914. Look at the dates on buildings in Paris. Many of them were built between 1890 and 1914.

Paris history: 1900 world exhibition

The 1900 world exhibition left a great legacy to Paris, a city which then counted 2 600 000 people: the Orsay Museum, the Grand Palais and Petit Palais close to Champs Elysees, Pont Alexandre III.

On this picture, the Alexandre III bridge is crossed by elegant Parisians during the 1900 World Exhibition.

Paris history: Paris 1900 - a rare video
La Defense Business District
La Defense Business District

Paris history: 2014

Paris has further extended itself. Paris metropolitan area now counts around 12 million inhabitants.

The Centre Pompidou, La Defense business district, Charles de Gaulle Airport, the Stade de France, Quai Branly Museum and Fondation Louis Vuitton are major contemporary additions to the beauty of Paris.

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