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Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero, Exposition Universal, 1900, Paris, France

Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero, Exposition Universal, 1900, Paris, France

The old Palais du Trocadéro (now demolished)

The hill of Chaillot was first arranged for the 1867 World's Fair. For the 1878 World's Fair, the (old) Palais du Trocadéro was built here (where meetings of international organizations could be held during the fair). The palace's form was that of a large concert hall with two wings and two towers; its style was a mixture of exotic and historical references, generally called "Moorish" but with some Byzantine elements. The architect was Gabriel Davioud. The concert hall contained a large organ built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll; the first large organ to be installed in a concert hall in France (it has since been modified twice, and eventually moved in 1977 to the Auditorium Maurice Ravel in Lyon, where is still in use today). The building proved unpopular, although the cost expended in its construction delayed its replacement for nearly fifty years.

Below the building in the space left by former underground quarries, a large aquarium was built to contain fish of French rivers. It was renovated in 1937 but closed again for renovation from 1985 until May 22, 2006.[3] The space between the palais and the Seine is set with gardens, designed by Jean-Charles Alphand, and an array of fountains. Within its garden, the old palace contained two large animal statues, of a rhinoceros and an elephant, which were removed and stored during the demolition of the old Trocadero palace, and have been located next to the entrance of the Musée d'Orsay since 1986.

The new Palais de Chaillot

For the Exposition Internationale of 1937, the old Palais du Trocadéro was demolished and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot which now tops the hill. It was designed in classicizing "moderne" style by architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu and Léon Azéma. Like the old palais, the palais de Chaillot features two wings shaped to form a wide arc: indeed, these wings were built on the foundations of those of the former building. However, unlike the old palais, the wings are independent buildings and there is no central element to connect them: instead, a wide esplanade leaves an open view from the place du Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower and beyond.

The buildings are decorated with quotations by Paul Valéry, and sculptural groups at the attic level by Raymond Delamarre, Carlo Sarrabezolles and Alfred Bottiau. The eight gilded figures on the terrace of the Rights of Man are attributed to the sculptors Alexandre Descatoire, Marcel Gimond, Jean Paris dit Pryas, Paul Cornet, Lucien Brasseur, Robert Couturier, Paul Niclausse, and Félix-Alexandre Desruelles.

The buildings now house a number of museums:

  • The Musée national de la Marine (naval museum) and the Musée de l'Homme (ethnology) in the southern (Passy) wing.

  • The Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, including the Musée national des Monuments Français, in the eastern (Paris) wing, from which one also enters the Théâtre national de Chaillot, a theater below the esplanade.

It was on the front terrace of the palace that Adolf Hitler was pictured during his short tour of the vanquished city in 1940, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. This became an iconic image of the Second World War.

It is in the Palais de Chaillot that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This event is now commemorated by a stone, and the esplanade is known as the esplanade des droits de l'homme ("esplanade of human rights"). The Palais de Chaillot was also the initial headquarters of NATO, while the "Palais de l'OTAN" (now Université Paris Dauphine) was being built.

Jardins du Trocadéro

Main article: Jardins du Trocadéro

The Jardins du Trocadéro occupy the open space bounded to the northwest by the wings of the Palais de Chaillot and to the southeast by the Seine and the Pont d'Iéna. The present garden has an area of 93,930 m2, and was created for the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937), on the design of architect Roger-Henri Expert. The entire site was formerly the garden of the old Palais du Trocadéro, laid out by Jean-Charles Alphand.

Others

Five avenues originate in the Trocadéro: the avenue Henri-Martin which links the Trocadéro with the porte de la Muette and passes in front of the lycée Janson de Sailly (Janson de Sailly secondary school); the avenue Paul Doumer which also approaches the Muette; the avenue d'Eylau, which goes to the Mexico Plaza; the avenue Kléber, which goes to the place de l'Etoile; and the avenue du Président Wilson which goes to the Pont de l'Alma and the Seine. There is a big municipal library near the Trocadéro's square. The high retaining walls of the Trocadero cemetery were constructed by the French industrialist, François Coignet.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on February 10, 2012
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Erik van den Ham