The Paris City Hall institution (Hotel de Ville in French) has been the heart of political and social life in Paris since 1357.
The City Hall is located at the heart of the city on the Seine river banks. It is the largest in Europe. Although the city of Paris is relatively small with 2 million people, the City Hall exerts its influence over the 12 million people Paris region.
The city of Paris is further divided into 20 arrondissements (see map of Paris arrondissements). Each arrondissement has its own city hall with limited administrative power.
During the Middle Ages, parisians sentenced to death were hung on Place de Greve, today Place de l'Hotel de Ville.
The first City Hall building (picture) was built between 1523 and 1628 on a design by italian architect Le Boccador. Le Boccador also partly designed the Chambord Castle, the most famous of the Loire Castles near Paris.
This City Hall was destroyed by fire (picture) in May 1871 during the La Commune uprising. The City Hall was rebuilt on the same design between 1874 and 1882.