Right in the middle of the Seine lies the famous centre of France, Île de la Cité. Once a fortified island, later a royal palace with adjoining ecclesiastical buildings. Finally part of it turned into the home of the high court of justice in France.
A remarkable new book tells the story of some of the architectural remains, which may still be visited on this island today.
In early times there was a Roman encampment on the island. Later Clovis (c. 466–511) built a castle and in the end of the 9th century the Vikings wintered there, collecting a huge ransom from the French king. About a 100 years later the Vikings were busy conquering England and the building of the predecessor of Notre Dame was begun. At the same time the castle on the island was rebuilt and fortified. Here the new Capetian kings built their royal, administrative and legal centre culminating in the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle. This is the only surviving building of the Capetian Palace although traces may be found elsewhere. Later the royal family moved to Louvre and finally Versailles, but the administrative centre stayed put at what is today “The Palais de Justice”.
Hitherto ignored, the history of this remarkable building has recently been treated to a meticulous survey by the historian, Herveline Delhumeau. In particular the work traces the remains of the Gothic period but also later developments are well covered.
The main feature, however, are the virtual reconstructions in 3D which invite us to get a real feeling of the layout of this iconic set of buildings. Through these we are allowed to immerse ourselves into one of the famous royal palaces of the Medieval West and its surroundings. Enjoy!
Read more about Palais de Justice today