The most famous monuments in Paris date from various eras. They are often found in the city’s center and adjacent to the Seine. The banks of the Seine from the Pont de Sully to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim constitute one of the most beautiful urban river landscapes in the world, and designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. It includes, from east to west: the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, the Palais du Louvre, the Hôtel des Invalides, the Alexandre III bridge, the Grand Palais, the Quai Branly Jacques-Chirac Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and the Trocadéro square. Further east, notablecontemporary buildings have been built: the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, the François-Mitterrand site of the National Library of France, etc.
There are emblematic ancient monuments on the Île de la Cité. Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Gothic style (mainly built from the 12th century to the 13th century) was extensively restored in the 19th Century, and its western facade cleaned at the end of the 20th Century. It is symbolically the core of Paris – in fact, French road distances are measured from its square. The former Conciergerie Palace was the seat of royal power until the reign of Charles V in the second half of the 14th Century. Part of the building was then converted into a prison and was notably the place of detention of illustrious personalities of the Ancien Régime before their execution during the French Revolution. The Sainte-Chapelle, built near the Conciergerie, is considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The Pont Neuf, located at the western end of the island and dating from the end of the 16th Century, is the oldest bridge in Paris in its original state.
Classical style monuments have also left their mark on the center of Paris. The Sorbonne Chapel in the heart of the Latin Quarter was built at the beginning of the 17th Century. The Louvre, a royal residence, was embellished in the 17th century and subsequently remodeled several times. The Hôtel des Invalides, with its famous golden dome, was erected at the end of the 17th Century in the suburbs of the city by Louis XIV, keen to provide a hospice for wounded soldiers. It has housed the ashes of Napoleon I since December 15, 1840, and his tomb since April 2, 1861. The Pantheon, built at the end of the 18th Century near the Sorbonne, became a civil temple where illustrious French people were buried during the Revolution.
19th Century construction is very abundant in Paris, notably the Arc de Triomphe, the covered passages, the Palais Garnier – built at the end of the Second Empire and the beginning of the Third Republic and which houses the Paris Opera, and the Eiffel Tower, a “provisional” construction erected by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 that was never dismantled. It has become the symbol of Paris, visible from most districts of the city and sometimes from the inner suburbs.
In the 20th Century, numerous creations by the greatest architects dot the streets of Paris: Guimard, Plumet, and Lavirotte, references of Art Nouveau in France, then those of Mallet-Stevens, Roux-Spitz, Dudok, Henri Sauvage, Le Corbusier, Auguste Perret, etc. during the interwar period.
Contemporary architecture in Paris is represented by the Pompidou Center, a building from the 1970s, which houses the National Museum of Modern Art as well as a large freely accessible public library.There is also the Institute of the Arab World opened in 1987 and the important achievements encouraged by President François Mitterrand: the national library of France in the new, rapidly developing Left Bank district of Paris, the Bastille Opera House and, probably the most famous, the Louvre pyramid, the work of architect Ieoh Ming Pei erected in the courtyard of the Louvre. More recently, the Musée du Quai Branly, and the Museum of Arts and Civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas designed by Jean Nouvel that was inaugurated in 2006, and the Louis-Vuitton Foundation designed by Frank Gehry inaugurated in 2014, have further enriched the architectural and cultural diversity of the capital city.
Architecture of Paris. TOP 60 to see (in alphabetical order)