Conciergerie – Palace and Prison, The Medieval and Revolutionary Halls

The medieval halls

The lower parts, the only ones still standing today, were reserved for the Royal Guard and the numerous staff – clerks, officers and servants – who worked for the king and his family (about 2,000 people in all). The floor of the medieval halls is still at its 14th-century level. The creation of embankments in the 19th century raised the level of the rest of the Ile-de-la-Cite and its other buildings.

The Hall of Men-at-Arms, built from 1302 onwards under Philippe le Bel, is one of the finest examples in Europe of Gothic secular architecture. Consisting of four rib vaulted “naves”, the hall was generously lit by twin windows, traces of which can be seen on the left wall. This huge refectory was heated by four large fireplaces. On the left hand wall, there is still a fragment of the black marble table used during the sumptuous receptions held by the Capetian monarchy in the Palace’s Great Ceremonial Hall, on the upper floor. The latter, which has now disappeared, used to be served by spiral staircases, an example of which can still be seen on the right hand side of the hall.

2 The kitchen outbuilding, built during the reign of John the Good and of which only the lower level remains, was built slightly later and used by the king’ staff. Foodstuffs were delivered there directly by river.

3 The Guardroom was built around the same time as the Hall of Men-at-Arms. The capitals” on the central pillar are thought to portray Heloise and Abelard. This hall was used as an antechamber to the Great Chamber on the upper floor (no longer standing), where the king held meetings with his council and his “lits de justice”. The Revolutionary Tribunal also sat here in 1793.

4 The Rue de Paris which gets its name from that given to the executioner during the Revolution, “Monsieur de Paris”, was used to imprison pailleux”. This area was once an integral part of the Hall of Men-at-Arms, but was separated off and raised in the 15th century.

The revolutionary halls

After the fire of 1776, Louis XVI modernized the Conciergerie prison, later used during the Revolution.

5 The Prisoners’ Gallery was the prison’s main thoroughfare, where prisoners could wander freely.

6 The Girondins’ Chapel stands on the site of the king’s medieval oratory’. The 21 Cirondins  feasted here prior to their execution on 30 October 1793.

7 Marie-Antoinette’s Chapel was built in 1815 on the exact spot where her prison cell stood.

 8 The Women’s Courtyard surrounded by two floors of prisoners’ cells, still has the fountain where they washed their clothes and one of the stone tables at which they ate, and the “Corner of the Twelve” or “of last goodbyes”. This is where condemned prisoners waited in groups of 12 for the cart that would carry them off to the scaffold.

9 Marie-Antoinette’s cell was reconstituted on part of the actual site of her dungeon. She was permanently guarded by two gendarmes.


Conciergerie – Paris Palace and Prison

About the Conciergerie, Paris

Palace and prison

Residence of the Kings of France

In the 6th century, Clovis, the first French king, established his royal residence on the Ile-de-la­Cite. Five centuries later, Hugues Caper, the first Capetian king, established his council and government in the Palais de la Cite, which thus became the seat of royal power.

Symbol of royal power

In the 14th century, Philippe IV the Fair – continuing the work of his grandfather, Saint Louis – turned the Palace into a prestigious symbol of the monarchy. It became the seat of the Parlement de Paris.

Palace of justice and prison

At the end of the 14th century, Charles V left the royal residence on the Ile-de-la-Cite for the hotel Saint-Pol, since destroyed, following the assassination of his father’s advisors. He appointed a steward, or “concierge”, endowed with legal powers, to run the Palace and prison Numerous prisoners of State were kept here, such as Ravaillac, Henri IV’s assassin. In later times, the Revolutionary Tribunal sat in the Palace and used it increasingly as a prison. The Conciergerie was listed as a historical monument in 1914.

A major centre during the Revolution

The Revolutionary Tribunal

In 1790, the mayor of Paris sealed the doors of the Palace, up until then the seat of the Parlement de Paris”. The Revolutionary Tribunal initiated in March 1793 took over the Grand Chamber. In July, Robespierre joined the Committee for Public Safety with a programme based on virtue and terror. The “Law of Suspects” ordered the arrest of anyone pre-sumed to be an enemy of the Revolution or who confessed to being so.

Over 1793 and 1794, more than 2,700 people appeared before Fouquier-Tinville, the tribunal’s public prosecutor, including Queen Marie-Antoinette and Robespierre. The trials of famous people gave way to collective trials. In 1794, witnesses and defenders were eliminated and tens of people were guillotined each day. After the fall of Robespierre, the Tribunal was dissolved in May 1795.

Everyday life in the prison

The Conciergerie had a reputation for being the toughest of all prisons. During the Reign of Terror”, its cells accommodated several hundred prisoners kept in terribly unhealthy and crowded conditions. Up until 1794, “suspects” were kept together with common law prisoners. On the eve of their court appearance, prisoners were notified that their trial was to begin

and of the charges brought against them by the “evening journal” or bill of indictment. Once the verdict had been given, prisoners sentenced to death were allowed to enjoy a final feast.


Burgos in Castile and Leon

The province of Burgos is situa­ted in the north-east of the community of Castile and Leon and has occupied a privileged place in Spanish history.

Nature has been generous with Burgos, providing it with an extremely varied landscape where we can discover high hills, bleak uplands, fertile meadows and riverbanks and northern green valleys. Several of the most outstanding Burgalese landscapes are protected within the Network of Natural Spaces of Castile and Leon: in the north of the province the karstic complex of Ojo Guareria, the Obarenes Mounts and the Orduna Pass. The Natural Park of the Sierra of Demanda to the East, the canyon of the river Lobos to the south and the Natural space of Yecla near to Santo Domingo de Silos. This natural wealth means that many outdoor sports can be practiced such as skiing, canoeing, climbing, hiking, rafting, horse-riding, etc. Hunting and fishing are especially important in our province.

The Historical-Artistic Heritage is copious and extremely varied: from the site of Atapuerca where the oldest human remains in Europe were found, the different cultures and peoples have left their legacy in the capital and pro­vince. We can find prehistoric paintings, Celtiberian forts, the Roman city of Clunia and the town of Banos de Valdearados, the Visigothic hermitage of Quintanilla de las Was and Romanesque art of exceptional quality distributed throughout the province. Gothic art can be seen at its best in the Cathedral of Burgos, but there are also important examples in the capital and province. There are also some outstanding Renaissance and Baroque monuments.

Both legendary and live names in popular tradition are associated with the history of Burgos, such as El Cid Campeador, Count Fernan Gonzalez or the Seven Infantes of Lara. The traditio­nal festivities show the wealth of Burgalese folklore. We can highlight the festivities of “El Colacho” in Castrillo de Murcia; the day of the Penas (clubs) during the patron saint festivities of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Burgos and the festivity of San Juan del Monte in Miranda de Ebro, all of which have been declared of tourist interest.

Apart from the great natural and cultural heritage, Burgos has, over the years, always welcomed and fed the traveler. The accommodation offer is extensive: from modern and comforta­ble hotels to guest-houses, camping sites and rural accommodations, in order to satisfy the demands of our visitors. Gastronomy is worth a separate men­tion, two products have the name “Burgos”, black pudding and cheese, but the exquisite lamb, game, meat and vegetable stew (olla podrida), mediaeval lentils, pork products, etc. must also be included. In the many bars and restau­rants, the visitor will have the chance to taste these dishes. The excellent wine of Ribera del Duero is the compulsory accompaniment.

 THE CAPITAL

Situated between the old Castle and the Arlazon River, Burgos is a city which has known how to preserve its personality.

The marvelous Cathedral, decla­red Heritage of Humanity, dominates the town with its open-work spires.

The Royal Monastery of Las Huelgas, a Cystercian monastery and pantheon of the kings and queens of Castile, the Cartuja (monastery) of Miraflores with masterpieces by Gil de Siloe and the mediaeval churches of San Lesmes, San Gil, San Nicolas and Santa Agueda, among others, preserve mas­terpieces of sculpture and Gothic and Renaissance painting.

There are also palaces such as the House of Cordon and the House of Miranda and old pilgrim hospitals, such as “del Rey” or San Juan, which are testi­monies of the city’s historical importan­ce on the Road to Santiago.

The Museum of Burgos must be visited in order to discover the heritage of Burgos and its province.

The riverbanks of the Arlazon and the large city parks add the counterpoint to the extensive cultural heritage.


Mexico – Land of Color

An easy flight from many U.S. gateways, Mexico is a land of colorful contrasts and diverse pleasures. Here you can immerse yourself in historic city centers, relax at marvelous beach resorts, travel back in time at ancient ruins, witness the grandeur of whales in their natural habitat, and explore awe-inspiring canyons. Discover Mexico’s magic just south of the border.

SUN AND SEA

Those seeking fun in the sun will find plenty of variety in Mexico. The Yucatan Pen­insula’s Caribbean shoreline features hotspot Cancun, the laid back islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and the lovely beach resorts of Tulum, Playa del Car­men, and Xpu-Ha. On the Pacific coast, Acapulco beckons with its sublime bay, outstanding hotels, and round-the-clock energy while further north, you’ll find the charming beach village of Zihuatanejo and exceptional lodgings in neighboring Ixtapa.

ARCHEOLOGICAL WONDERS

Numerous archaeological treasures left by centuries of pre-Hispanic civilizations attest to Mexico’s glorious past. Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, is famous for the pyramid-lined Avenue of the Dead featuring the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. Monte Alban is a signifi­cant Zapotec ceremonial center on a mountaintop overlooking the valley of Oaxaca. The Mayan ruins at Palenque in the state of Chiapas are dramatically positioned atop a tall ridge at the base of forested mountains. And Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and Ek Balam are impor­tant Mayan sites on the Yucatan Peninsula.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS Mexico is blessed with breath­taking natural beauty and wild­life, Head to the Baja California Peninsula (from January through March) to witness the majesty of the gray whale. An estimated 10,000 of these graceful crea­tures travel from the frigid Ber­ing Sea to mate and give birth to their calves in the warm Pacific waters. While there are many great viewing locations, the protected waters of El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve provide ideal conditions for both the whales and whale watchers.

Inland, magnificent Copper Canyon is a 6,487-square-mile network of canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua. The Chihuahua to Pacific Railway leaves from Los Mochis on the Sea of Cortes and travels inland to Copper Canyon. The railway, an engineering feat with 39 bridges and 86 tunnels, traverses the canyon offering incredible vistas of pine forests, jagged peaks, and valleys before descending into the city of Chi­huahua. You can stay overnight at stops along the way to explore the dramatic terrain while hiking, horseback riding, and camping.


Machu Picchu

MACHU PICCHU NEARLY OOZES MYS­TERY DRAWING THOSE WITH A BOLD SPIRIT UNQUENCHABLE CURIOSITY OR A STRONG INHALER TOWARD THE CAP­TIVATING RUINS. MAYBE IT IS MACHU PICCHU’S ANCIENT CHARM THAT TURNS PEOPLE INTO WORLD-CLASS CLIMBERS, OR IT’S SENSE OF MYSTERY AND PLACE. ENIGMATIC BY NATURE, LEGENDS SHROUD THIS CULTURAL LANDMARK. SHAMAN MYTHS EVEN SUGGEST MACHU PICCHU IS A SORT OF PORTAL TO THE SPIRIT WORLD- A PLACE WHERE OLD MEETS NEW IN A SUPERFLUOUS UNION.

For the world-class traveler, Machu Picchu-situated 7,000 feet above sea level-does not disappoint. Hike the Inca Trail for an adventure that lasts any­ where from two days and one night to eight days and seven nights. After days in the sun, where donkeys bear­ing human cargo scale teetering lodges and helicopters hover over the landscape to offer you breathtaking views, unwind in a five-star hotel conveniently located in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. To the joy of history buffs and the jet set elite, these hotels boast a union of old and new that is sure to entice. For thousands of years, the sacred site has been the desti­nation of pilgrimages and long spiritual journeys, and even today, mystery radiates from the ruins. Machu Picchu is one of the rare places where an undeniable sacredness coexists in the midst of all that is thoroughly modern. It is this integrity and ancient charm that unleashes the world-class hiker in all of us, coerces out endurance we never knew we had and makes us appre­ciate such natural marvels in our world.

HOTEL MONASTERIO

Boasting expansive archways and architectural ingenuity, Hotel Monasterio was founded in the consecrated San Antonio Abaci seminary and is a national historical landmark. The building was restored and a chapel was added after an earthquake in 1650. The Baroque-style hotel features gold-plated frames and paintings of the life of San Antonio Abad by the most innovative artists of the Cusquenian Art School. Relax in your Spanish-style room and enjoy nature in the hotel’s courtyard, which features a soft fountain and 300-year-old cedar trees, gardens and stone cloisters. Enjoy a buffet breakfast and Saturday Inca dinners at the hotel’s El Tupay Restaurant or visit the Main Square/Courtyard for lunch and dinner. Conde Nast Traveler named this luxury hotel Best Hotel in South America in 2008. Calle Palacios 136, Plazoleta Nazarenas, Cusco, Peru, +51-84-60-4000


Lisbon for Art, Culture, and Dining

Lisbon has been busy lately doing what it does best: embellish­ing its inimitable, gilded history with world-class venues for contemporary culture, art, and dining. Even as Baixa, the city’s cheerfully decrepit 18th-century downtown, applies for UNESCO World Heritage site status, a roster of starchitects among them Renzo Piano, Santiago Calatrava, and local talent Alvaro Siza-are vying to leave their marks on Lisbon’s parks and residential developments. While independent fashion designers and antiquarians still reign in Principe Real and Bairro Alto, interior designers have established themselves in adjacent Santos, followed by adventurous restaurateurs who are looking beyond Portugal’s borders for inspiration. And as the Continent’s capital cities seem to move ever closer to a state of homogeneity, Lisbon remains delightfully free of the signs of global bleed. (There’s exactly one Starbucks downtown, and it opened just months ago). The resulting balance of old­world charm and edgy avant-gardecreates a dynamic that’s full of surprises and definitely worth exploring.


London in Autumn

An electric energy buzzes through London in the fall. Starting with the lively fireworks on Bonfire Day until the sparkling display over the River Thames on New Year’s Eve, the action is nonstop, from blockbuster musicals to brand-new galleries, cozy jazz bars, and unique experiences that you can find only in London.

ART AND HISTORY LOVERS

London is a modern city where trends are set and the latest fashions are made; it’s a place where cutting-edge cool meets centuries ­old grace in the flash of a Tube ride. This diverse mix supplies endless events and new openings, such as the unveiling of the world­class Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum last month, which is one of the only science-in-action experiences of its kind.

CULTURE CRAVERS

London’s dining scene has come a long way from fish and chips-today you’re as likely to put vinegar on your fries as you are to savor impeccably fresh sushi prepared by some of the world’s best chefs. Get your taste buds up to speed at the first-ever, city-wide London Restaurant Festival (Oct. 8-13). The six-day event will feature a diverse range of eateries, menus, and events.