A monument amongst monuments, a must see. A lot more history that which is told at the French revolution and the events that took place there like the imprisionement of louis XVI and marie Antoinette.
The Conciergerie is the main building and oldest of the Palais de la Cité. The word Conciergerie was given to the living place of the concierge, and the place or prison where he keeps the prisioners. The word and title of the concierge was given to those in charge of an important building, castle, palace etc. Today,you still see it in one of the most important hôtels in the world.
Underneath the today Marché aux Fleurs,there were a basilica of a good size. Some of the Roman emperors stayed here such as Julien, in 358 and in the winter of 359-360 and later Valentinien Ier.
Kings Louis VI and VII continue the developement of this enceinte fortress, finally during the reign of Philippe II Auguste the fortress starts loosing its leading role to that of the Louvre. king Louis IX (Saint Louis) brings it back to importance. It continues during the reigns of Philippe III and IV. Jean II le Bon and his son Charles V after his father is imprisionement and force to stayed at the Louvre.
Charles VI even if the castle fortress is abandoned continue to use it for feast and parties. Charles VIII after his marriage with Anne of Bretagne does some additional work for improvements here in 1491, even if does not live in the fortress castle. Nor does Louis XI and Louis XII.
François I, Henri II, and Henri III does some work and holds parties there but again does not live. Henri IV does some works around the fortress all the way to the place Dauphine. Louis XIII, Louis XIV continues with some work but not living there as well. Louis XV see a fire that damage the chambre des comptes and quickly it is ordered to repair it. finally Louis XVI after another fire in 1776, takes advantage to clear the principal entrance to the palace fortress to give it a monumental apperiance along the tastes of the times. From here until 1787 the palace goes thru major transformation in style and architecture.
In 1789, the palace of the Cité now part of the conciergerie or as it was called, houses the principal institution of the kingdom of France. Such as the Chambre des Comptes, Cour des Monnaies, Cour des Aides ,and especially the Parlement de Paris. During the French revolution all was change. Still the palace held the judicial power as in 1791 it houses the Tribunal de Cassation,use in the Grand-Chambre of the palace. Also, the Tribunal criminel de Paris was installed here as well as the departments of the Police,Domaines, Finances,and Contributions.
The terror takes place by now, On April 6, 1793, the revolutionary tribunal comes to occupied the first floor (2nd Fl) in the old room of grande-chambre of the parlement de Paris ,renamed the room of liberty or salle de la Liberté. A second room called the room of Equality or Égalité was established in the old room or salle Saint-Louis.
After the Convention is in place, it eliminates the revolutionary tribunal and the Tribunal de Cassation takes it place back in the palace. After many reforms the judicial administration takes possession of the palace that became the palais de justice de Paris that you see still today (where the Sainte Chapelle is).
Those that passed by it from acts against the revolution here were guillotined such as
Jean Sylvain Bailly
comtesse du Barry
Georges Jacques Danton
the sisters Carmélites de Compiègne
Madame Élisabeth de France (sister of Louis XVI)
Anne-Louise de Sérilly
the Girondins parlemantaires of Bordeaux
Chrétien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes
Maximilien de Robespierre
Olympe de Gouges
it was eventully kept as a place to keep old archives Under the First Empire, Louis XVIII change the entry after the chapel for the rests of the king/queen of before the revolution were found. Between 1833 and 1835,the Galerie Saint-Louis was change in néogothique style.
During the franco-german war, fire on May 24 1871, due to the insurrection of the Commune de Paris makes it necessary to do more work of repairs, such as the salle des Pas-Perdus ,and Grand-Chambre that were destroyed. In the Third Republic more work was continue in the central and southwest parts of the palace finished in 1914. After these only some minor interior work was done and it lost its statues of a prison in 1934.
In a rather small part of the Conciergerie reconstructions of some rooms of the prison under the Revolution can be seen like the clerk's and concierge's offices, the room where condemned prisoners were stripped of their personal belongings and had their hair cut in their neck before being grouped by twelve in the courtyard where a cart would take them to the scaffold with the guillotine.
A series of cells show the various categories of prisoners. The poor called "payeux" because they were sleeping on straw "paille" put on the floor, the "pistoliers" who paid some "pistols" (french money of that time) for a cell with a bed.
Actually there were many more cells than these few reconstitutions. Up to 600 prisoners could be kept in the prison.
The large room of the Guards was compartmentalized in cells and horizontally divided by a floor at middle height to increase the number of cells for men. Around the Grand Préau were also cells for men. The cells for women surrounded the "cour des femmes". The fountain the visitors can see now is the one where the female prisoners washed their clothes.
During the "Terreur" reign of terror (1793-94) 2.700 persons were prosecuted and 2278 were condemned to death. In 1794 an average of about 40 people were guillotined every day.