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Paris France Architecture

Paris architecture embraces many historic epochs, with splendid historic edifices and modern hi-tech buildings accompanying each other in perfect harmony, like jewels in the crown. The remnants of Roman architecture, though, are insignificant, but can still be found: Rue Saint-Jacques, cutting through the city, was the major Roman thoroughfare. The earliest examples of medieval architecture belong to the Romanesque style, as 10th century Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church.

By 1100s in France emerged these unique architectural innovations, including pointed arches and cross vaults that created magnificent Gothic style. The Basilique Saint-Denis (1140-1144) in nearby Saint Denis was the first of the great Gothic Cathedrals; in Paris, Notre Dame, begun by the Bishop de Sully in 1163, was the first to appear. The bishop claimed it appeared to him in a vision, but probably he tried to surpass the grandeur of Saint Denis Cathedral. The disastrous series of events, following the Hundred Years War, influenced architecture, dominated by fortress-like homes, narrow streets and mighty fortifications.

The Renaissance was marked by flourishing of arts and education. Numerous residences, palaces and churches feature the unique French Renaissance style, less exuberant and more elegant than Italian. Among the buildings of that period are Palais du Louvre, Place des Vosges and Hôtel Carnavalet (Musée Historique de la Ville de Paris). This style subsequently developed in Baroque and classicism, thriving under the reign of Sun King, Louis XIV. This style is characterized by intricate ornamentation and refined lines, as in Quai d’Anjou, the typical Baroque complex. The classicism, inspired by Roman architecture, is represented in Hotel de Sully.

The lavish and ornate Rococo style favoured refined, nature-inspired lines and tendencies to lightness, along with considerable practical improvement of residential standards. Hôtel de Chenizot represents grand public buildings, while Patisserie Stohrer is a typical Rococo residence.

Neo-Classicism, improving the traditions of its predecessors, generated the overwhelming Panteon. Consulate and Empire architecture indulged in pompous shapes and enormous buildings, along with the development of practical urban architecture and improvement of the street layout. Among the landmarks Galerie Vivienne (originally Galerie Marchoux), Arc de Triomphe and Hôtel Bony.

During 19-20th century Paris was the laboratory for modernism, including Art Nouveau, Art Deco and hi-tech style. This favoured the appearance of the famous Tour Montparnasse, Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Galleries Lafayette.

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