The Medieval Conciergerie

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The Conciergerie was the royal palace, the Palais de la Cité, named after the island of the same name in the middle of the Seine River. It was home to King Louis IX, who had the Sainte-Chapelle built within its grounds. It was also the home of his grandson King Philippe IV, who extended and fortified the palace, creating the towered façade that faced the river. The medieval origin of the building is pretty obvious from the building style of the towers. There are three towers that have survived from the medieval Conciergerie: the Caesar, the Silver and the Bonbec towers. Philippe IV built the spectacular Salle des Gens d’Armes (pictured below), one of the most impressive examples of Gothic architecture that is still in existence. But over the course of the 14th century, French Kings abandoned the Palace of the Cité,…show more content…
This was very convenient because they were able to transfer prisoners, whose trial before the Tribunal was impending, to the Conciergerie beneath. Men and women were kept separate, and “wealthy prisoners were given the best accommodations in the former palace while petty thieves were made to sleep in dark, rodent-infested rooms where they often succumbed to diseases such as the plague” . In particular, the Salle des Gens d’Armes became a huge cage, capable of holding over a hundred male prisoners. No one is sure which cell housed Marie-Antoinette precisely, but a memorial chapel was built in its place. In 1914, the Conciergerie was decommissioned and re-opened as a national monument but the Salle des Gens d’Armes lost nothing of its medieval grandeur, and one can still walk in the steps of the prisoners on their way to the guillotine. The rest of the former royal palace is now the Palais de Justice, housing the Superior Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, so only a small portion is actually accessible to the
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