This historic building in Paris, set on the Ile-de-la-Cité, is a former jail, where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned. From its construction in the 10th century, the building has been in turn the seat of the Law Court and a prison.
The Conciergerie is one of Paris historic monuments. From the 11th century, the Palais de la Cité enjoys a Conciergerie.
The Conciergerie is the high place of power of the Concierge, the one guaranteeing order and police.
When being renovated, the Centre des Monuments Nationaux wanted to show the marks left by time on the building, and therefore we find gothic style medieval rooms, and revolutionary rooms. Medieval rooms are set at the garden level, which is to say a few meters below the first floor.
There, you discover the daily life of the King’s guards. The Salle des Gens d’Armes built-in 1302 under Philippe Le Bel, with its magnificent vaulted naves, is a large refectory, whereas the kitchen displays furniture from yesteryear, the Salle des Gardes, where the king held “lits de justice”, i.e. the Parliament meetings.
Then, head upstairs and visit the revolutionary rooms including 3 reconstructed cells, the desk of the court clerk entrusted with recording prisoners, the Concierge’s office, the Salle de la Toilette, and Marie-Antoinette’s expiatory chapel, built-in 1815 in lieu of her cell. Along with these historic traces, many explanations about the part the Conciergerie played in the Revolution and the Terror.
When visiting the Conciergerie we get aware of the harsh reality of the Parisian life during the Revolution, when 4,000 people have had to appear before a Revolutionary Court before being freed or guillotined, before the Terror and the media-friendly trials, including Robespierre’s decapitation, the politician known as the face of the dictatorship, necessary sacrifice to get back to a time of peace.
The Conciergerie has been proposing augmented reality reconstitutions since December 2016. With a tablet, the Histopad, jails reveal clues about the 4,000 revolutionary prisoners waiting for their trials, the confessional seems to be whispering the secrets revealed and Marie-Antoinette’s expiatory chapel reveals the condition of her imprisonment.
All in all, eight rooms, eight stories are told in the monument: the kitchen displays the show of a royal banquet that did happen in 1378, the Salle des Gardes is like the jail it was in 1780, the Grand’Chambre finds the splendor of the Seat of Paris Parliament back, and we could almost follow Marie-Antoinette’s journey towards her execution spot on October 16, 1793, from her cell to the Place de la Révolution, following a great historic rigor, paintings in augmented reality being validated by historians thanks to iconographic sources.
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2 Boulevard du Palais
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