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Commissioned by Henri IV in 1607 as part of the city's redevelopment, Place Dauphine was dedicated to his son and heir apparent, the future Louis XIII. In common with Place des Vosges (also one of Henri IV's creations), it is symmetrical in design and surrounded by stone-built, red-brick buildings. Tucked away to the east of the Pont-Neuf bridge, it's a delightful and very peaceful spot. In good weather, you can watch people playing pétanque here or sit down on a bench and bury yourself in a good book.
Once set up in the palace of the Louvre, the royal family Valois (who ruled France between the 14th and 16th Century) chose Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois as the church of the monarchy. After the French Revolution, the building lost its prestige since it was used to store fodder. Today, visitors can admire its 12th Century roman tower and its stained-glass windows, which were restored in the 15th Century. The portal, choir and the Virgin's chapel date from the 13th Century.
Among the various bridges spanning the Seine, the Pont des Arts is without doubt one of the most romantic, its all-metal structure providing a link between the Louvre and the L'Institut de France. This delightful little footbridge, built during the 18th Century, has always been a pedestrian bridge. Originally, a tollgate was installed at each end, ensuring that access was only given to the upper classes. The bridge faced destruction during the world wars, however, in 1981, it was restored to its former glory.
Located in the center of the city within the Palais de Justice complex on the Île de la Cite, the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) is a small Gothic chapel constructed in the Rayonnant style. Built by King Louis IX from 1238-1244, the chapel housed holy relics from the Passion believed to be Jesus' Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross. These items were purchased from the Byzantine emperor Baldwin II in 1239 for a huge sum of 135,000 livres (the church cost 40,000 livres to build) due to the King's desire to elevate France as the leader of Western Christianity. The Sainte-Chapelle provides visitors with a spectacular visual experience, since the entire upper tier of the chapel is surrounded by enormous stained glass windows.
Palais du Louvre's facade to its extreme eastern end, Perrault's Colonnade remains a fine example of French classicism architectural style. The elaborate structure was built between the years 1667 and 1670. It also features elements of Baroque architecture and was built to the designs of Vitruvius, a celebrated Roman artist from the bygone era.
Situated in a part of the Palais de Justice (Law courts), the Conciergerie became Paris' first prison in 1391. Behind its medieval façade are reconstructions of cells, the 14th-century Salle des Gardes (Guardroom), the Salle des Gens d'Armes (Arms room), which is a fine example of Gothic architecture, the Cour des Femmes, where the prisoners took their daily walk, and the Bonbec Tower in which they were interrogated. During the French Revolution, almost 3000 people were locked up in these dungeons; one of them is a reconstruction of the cell in which Queen Marie-Antoinette awaited her fate at the guillotine. Several other famous prisoners were entertained here, including Charlotte Corday (politician Jean-Paul Marat's assassin in 1793), chemist Antoine de Lavoisier and poet André Chénier.