Conciergerie (parts of it 1300 AD)
The Conciergerie was the castle where the kings and queens of France lived when they were in Paris. Originally this was the Roman fort, where the Roman commander of Paris lived. The emperor Julian was acclaimed emperor here in 361 AD. This Roman fort lasted for more than a thousand years. The Frankish king Clovis died in it in 511 AD, and in the 1200s AD King Louis IX built the Sainte Chapelle in it.
But this Roman fort was getting too old to be safe to live in. About 1300 AD, King Philip IV tore down the old castle and built a beautiful new one on top of it. This is the castle you can still see today, which is called the Conciergerie.
The Conciergerie was built in a time when kings might need to defend their houses against attacking enemies. It has strong thick walls and towers all around the outside, with little narrow windows so that you could shoot arrows out of it but not into it. Inside, facing the courtyard, they could have bigger windows.
The windows you see in this picture are for a spiral staircase. See how the windows on the left are higher than those on the right? Spiral staircases saved space when you had to build a castle you could defend from enemies.
Basement dining hall
In the basement there was a huge room where the castle servants ate their dinners and slept, and big castle kitchens with huge fireplaces.
(with kids inside it)
Upstairs there was another huge room for the king's banquets. This was also where the king gave judgments on the most important court cases.
The Conciergerie was only a king's palace for a short time. In 1358, during the Hundred Years' War with England, the king, Jean II, was frightened by a revolt of the people of Paris and decided to move across the Seine river to the new palace of the Louvre.
The Conciergerie stood empty for a little while, but by 1400 Charles VI made the old palace into a prison.
Click here for a project about castles.
To find out more about medieval castles, check out these books on Amazon.com or at your library:
Castle, by David Macaulay
Eyewitness: Castle (Eyewitness Books), by Christopher Gravett ,Geoff Dann (Photographer) (2000)
Make This Model Medieval Castle (Usborne Cut-Out Models), by Iain Ashman (1997)
Compare this to the Alhambra palace, built in the 1250s AD
Back to medieval architecture
Back to main medieval page