bastille prison

The Bastille: A Jewel of Paris’ History

Paris, a city known for its rich history and beautiful architecture, boasts countless iconic landmarks. Yet, few resonate with the same historical gravity as the Bastille. This fortress turned prison became a symbol of the French Revolution, its name forever associated with the struggle for liberty. Let’s delve into the tale of this formidable edifice.

Unraveling the History of the Bastille

The Origins of the Bastille

Built in the 14th century during the Hundred Years’ War, the Bastille was initially intended to defend Paris against the English. It was named Bastille Saint-Antoine, after the historic Parisian district it occupied.

The Bastille as a Royal Prison

By the 17th century, the Bastille began serving as a state prison. Its prisoners were not ordinary criminals, but individuals who posed a threat to royal power. These could be writers, thinkers, and other figures whose ideas or actions were deemed disruptive.

The Storming of the Bastille

The 14th of July, 1789, marks a significant date in history: the Storming of the Bastille. This event was a pivotal moment in the French Revolution, symbolizing the fall of the monarchy and the rise of the common people.

See also  Fresnes Prison, Fresnes, Val de Marne, near Paris

The Bastille’s Significance in French Revolution

The Aftermath of Bastille Day

Following the Storming, the Bastille was torn down by revolutionaries. Its destruction represented the end of an oppressive era and the dawn of a new one focused on liberty, equality, and fraternity.

The Bastille’s Role in the Rise of the Republic

The Bastille’s fall played a crucial role in the subsequent rise of the French Republic. It sparked revolutionary fervor that eventually overthrew the Bourbon Monarchy, leading to the establishment of the First French Republic.

The Bastille Today

The July Column

Where the Bastille once stood, you will now find the July Column, a monument erected to commemorate the Revolution of 1830. The column, with its gilded statue, “The Spirit of Freedom,” is a powerful symbol of the French people’s enduring pursuit of liberty.

The New Bastille: An Icon of Paris

Today, the Bastille is a vibrant neighborhood, filled with bustling shops, cafés, and the renowned Bastille Opera. Although the original fortress is no longer standing, its legacy lives on in the spirit of the district and its people.

Interesting Facts about the Bastille

The Secret Tunnels of the Bastille

Did you know that the Bastille housed secret tunnels? These were designed for the covert transportation of high-profile prisoners and provide a fascinating glimpse into the fortress’s shadowy past.

The Bastille Key: A Token of Alliance

After the Storming, the key to the Bastille was sent to George Washington as a symbol of Franco-American friendship and shared dedication to liberty. It is currently displayed at Mount Vernon, Washington’s home.

See also  La Santé Prison, Paris


The Bastille, far more than a mere fortress or prison, stands as a poignant symbol of the fight for freedom. Its story is deeply interwoven with the fabric of France, reflecting the nation’s tumultuous journey towards democracy. Despite its physical absence, the Bastille continues to cast a long shadow, reminding us of the enduring power of the people in shaping history.


  1. What was the Bastille? The Bastille was a fortress in Paris, built in the 14th century. It later served as a state prison and was stormed and destroyed during the French Revolution in 1789.
  2. Why is the Bastille significant? The Bastille is a symbol of the French Revolution. Its storming marked the beginning of the Revolution and the fall of the Bourbon Monarchy.
  3. What stands at the site of the Bastille today? Today, the July Column stands at the site of the former Bastille. The area is a vibrant neighborhood with numerous shops, cafés, and the Bastille Opera.
  4. Who were the prisoners of the Bastille? The Bastille held prisoners who were deemed a threat to royal power, such as writers and thinkers whose ideas or actions were considered disruptive.
  5. What happened to the key of the Bastille? The key of the Bastille was given to George Washington as a symbol of the shared commitment to liberty between France and America. It is now displayed at Mount Vernon, Washington’s home.

Similar Posts

Frequently Asked Questions

Popular cases

Federal Prisons Information Directory

Adams County Correctional Institution | Alderson Federal Prison Camp | Aliceville Federal Correctional Institution | Allenwood Low FCI | Allenwood Medium FCI | Allenwood United States Penitentiary | Ashland Federal Correctional Institution | Atlanta United States Penitentiary | Atwater USP | Bastrop Federal Correctional Institution | Beaumont Low | Beaumont Medium | Beaumont United States Penitentiary | Beckley FCI | Bennettsville FCI | Berlin Federal Correctional Institution | Big Sandy United States Penitentiary | Big Spring Federal Correctional Institution | Brooklyn Medical Detention Center | Bryan Federal Prison Camp | Butner Medium II FCI | Butner Low FCI | Butner Federal Medical Center | Butner Medium FCI | Canaan USP | Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center | Cibola County Correctional Center | Coleman II United States Penitentiary | Coleman Low Federal Correctional Institution | Coleman Medium FCI | Coleman I USP | Carswell Federal Medical Center | Cumberland FCI | Danbury FCI | Devens Federal Medical Center | Duluth Federal Prison Camp | Dublin Federal Correctional Institution | Edgefield FCI | Eden Detention Center | Elkton FCI | Englewood FCI | El Reno FCI | Estill Federal Correctional Institution | Fairton Federal Correctional Institution | Florence FCI | Florence ADMAX United States Penitentiary | Florence High USP | Forrest City Medium FCI | Forrest City Low FCI | Fort Dix FCI | Fort Worth FCI | Gilmer FCI | Greenville FCI | Guaynabo Medical Detention Center | Hazelton United States Penitentiary | Herlong Federal Correctional Institution | Honolulu FDC | Houston FDC | Jesup FCI | La Tuna FCI | Lee USP | Lewisburg USP | Lexington Federal Medical Center | Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution | Lompoc USP | Loretto FCI | Los Angeles MDC | Leavenworth USP | Manchester FCI | Marion USP | McRae Correctional Institution | McDowell FCI | McKean FCI | McCreary USP | Memphis FCI | Miami FCI
Milan FCI | Miami FDC | Marianna FCI | Montgomery FPC | Morgantown FCI | Moshannon Valley CI | New York MCC | Oakdale FDC | Oakdale FCI | Oklahoma City FTC | Otisville FCI | Oxford FCI |Pekin FCI | Petersburg Medium FCI | Petersburg Low FCI | Pensacola FPC | Philadelphia FDC | Phoenix FCI | Pollock USP | Pollock FCI | Ray Brook FCI | Rochester FMC | Reeves I & II CI | Reeves III CI | Rivers CI | Safford FCI | Schuylkill FCI | San Diego MCC | Seagoville FCI | Seatac FDC | Sheridan FCI | Springfield MCFP | Sandstone FCI | Taft Correctional Institution | Tallahassee FCI | Tucson FCI | Tucson USP | Talladega FCI | Texarkana FCI | Terre Haute FCI | Terre Haute USP | Terminal Island FCI | Three Rivers FCI | Victorville Medium I FCI | Victorville USP | Victorville Medium II FCI | Waseca FCI | Williamsburg FCI | Yazoo City Medium FCI | Yazoo City Low FCI | Yankton FPC