Among numerous Paris sights the special place occupies a unique palace which has begun its history as the Cardinal’s possession, has continued as the Royal, eventually has reincarnated in a brothel, has taken direct part in Great French revolution… the First French passage of Palais Royal – the child of well-known “awful” Cardinal Richelieu.
First of all, let’s specify what “passage” means. In one of historical documents a name passage in Paris used to be exclusively given to walking path which connected two streets. These are such places where numerous shops and restaurants settle down; here enamored gentlemen appoint secret meetings to ladies. For today Paris has six thousand streets, and three tens from them are proudly called passages, however only their tenth part corresponds to the old name.
So, we will return to the object of our narration. Palais Royal along with many things in France has got interesting history. We all know that Cardinal Richelieu was an extremely influential person in the politics of France (and all Europe) in the seventeenth century. And this person constantly changed places, however he could not find really comfortable place for a life for a long time. In the countryside residences he could not show his active nature completely, and to live under the same roof with “the weak” monarch was below his honor, after all the Cardinal, whatever one may say, considered himself the main person in the country.
As a result in 1624 Richelieu has bought an estate of Angennes near the Louvre which at that time already had several buildings, a garden and defensive towers. It could not satisfy him, and he decided to erect a magnificent palace corresponding to the greatness of the Cardinal. The author of the project of this palace was a close friend of Richelieu architect Jacques Lemercier. He has constructed a majestic building fast enough; it has received the first name – Palais Cardinal.
The palace has turned out truly magnificent, it had everything possible to wish, including huge library, own theatre, a real Guards hall. The collection of picturesque paintings of the Cardinal consisted of hundreds of works of such well-known masters as Tiziano, Rafael, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer and others. Besides that, lots of unique sculptures pleasing a look of the owner have been installed in palace forcing to envy its visitors, including King Louis. As the Cardinal was the cleverest and most perspicacious person he understood that “impudence” of such kind can lead to serious problems with the monarch. And to exclude it, he bequeathed his palace to the Royal family after his death.
Louis XIII could not take full pleasure in all delights of the palace as he has lived a year longer than his minister and has left this world in 1643. However, the palace was not empty for long as his widow– Queen Anne d’Autriche has moved in there with the children (future king Louis XIV Le Roi Soleil among them) and her favorite Cardinal Mazarini. So, the palace got a new name of Palais Royal.
Having ascended to the throne, the young monarch has left magnificent apartments which apparently did not cause warm feelings in him, and has presented it to his brother Philippe d’Orléans. The palace was in possession of this clan up to the Great French revolution.
For centuries Palais Royal (or Cardinal) has undergone many changes; however it always remained one of the most magnificent palaces in Europe. Today it is a gorgeous place which is visited by many thousand tourists from various corners of the world every year. We wish you, visiting Paris, come there personally to see all its magnificence.