Conciergerie is most famous for being a prison in the 15th century but it was actually constructed in the 14th century. It was chosen by King Philippe IV who soon called it “The Fair”; it was chosen by him for his desire to build a palace representing his significance and all the power held by him as King of France. It came to be known as one of the most glorious palaces in the Middle Ages and grew into its name; Palais de la Cite. However, in the later part of the 14th century it was abandoned as King Philippe believed Chateau Vincennes and, the now famous Paris museum, The Louvre palace were better alternatives to best represent his power.

At this point, Palais de la Cite was now available for use by the Paris Parliament. The Conciergerie was chosen by the King as a means to maintain order, manage the police, and later would be turned into a prison that soon became known as La Conciergerie. There are some significant sections of La Conciergerie that are still intact including the hall of guards, the soldier’s hall, and the kitchen. Despite the significance of these areas, it was actually the cellars of La Conciergerie that began to be used as a courthouse. By the 1700s this monument had officially fully transformed into a prison; a prison that would come to be known as the most famous prison in French History.

The biggest trait that makes this one of the most famous and well know prisons in French history, as well as one of the most well known landmarks in France, were the events that took place during the French Revolution. Between 1793 and 1794 there were thousands of men and women awaiting their demise while being detained in La Conciergerie. Their demise consisted of being beheaded in the public Concorde Square. The most famous prisoner ever to be held during this time was, Queen of France and sister to the King of Austria, Marie Antoinette herself. She met her death by facing the guillotine.

In the modern world, Conciergerie has become a historical place that allows visitors to view the reconstruction of the cell of Marie-Antoinette, and a number of dungeons; each providing their own frightening characteristics that offer a certain sense of terror to those interested. Attractions include the exact chapel that was built from the direct orders of King Louis XVIII; orders were to build the chapel on the spot that was once Marie-Antoinette’s cell. This spot is commemorated for the previous Queen of France by exhibiting a crucifix and her portrait on the walls.

Anyone interested in French history or any history at all, will agree that Conciergerie is a great place to visit. Much of the original Gothic architecture of the monument as well as the impressive Salle des Gardes is still intact. There are a number of beautiful vaulted ceilings; still reminiscent of the Middle Ages. This, oldest prison in France, is an important part of French History.