Tuileries Palace

Coordinates: 48°51′50″N 2°19′34″E / 48.86389°N 2.32611°E / 48.86389; 2.32611

The Tuileries Palace (French: Palais des Tuileries, IPA: ) was a royal palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine until 1871, when it was destroyed in the upheaval during the suppression of the Paris Commune. It closed off the western end of the Louvre courtyard, which has remained open since the destruction of the palace.

The site is now the location of the Tuileries Garden (French: Jardin des Tuileries).


After the death of Henry II of France in 1559, his widow Catherine de' Medici (1519–1589) planned a new palace. She began building the palace of Tuileries in 1564, using architect Philibert de l'Orme. The name derives from the tile kilns or tuileries which had previously occupied the site. The palace was formed by a range of long, narrow buildings with high roofs that enclosed one major and two minor courtyards. The building was greatly enlarged in the 17th century, so that the southeast corner of the Tuileries joined the Louvre.

Louis XIV

Louis XIV resided at the Tuileries Palace while Versailles was under construction. His gardener, André Le Nôtre, designed and laid out parterres for the Tuileries gardens in 1664, but when the king left Paris, the building was virtually abandoned. It was used only as a theater, and its gardens became a fashionable resort of Parisians.

Louis XV

The boy-king Louis XV was moved from Versailles to the Tuileries Palace on 1 January 1716, four months after ascending to the throne. He moved back to Versailles on 15 June 1722, three months before his coronation. Both moves were made at the behest of the Regent, the duc d'Orléans. The king also resided at the Tuileries for short periods during the 1740s.

Louis XVI

On 6 October 1789, during the French Revolution, Louis XVI and his family were forced to leave Versailles and brought to the Tuileries where they were kept under surveillance. For the next two years the palace remained the official residence of the king.

On 9 November 1789, the National Constituent Assembly, formerly the Estates-General of 1789, had moved its deliberations from the tennis court at Versailles to the Tuileries, following the removal of the court to Paris. The Tuileries' covered riding ring, the Salle du Manège (which ran along the north end of the Tuileries Gardens to the west of the palace), home to the royal equestrian academy, provided the largest indoor space in the city.

The royal family tried to escape after dark, on 20 June 1791, but were captured at Varennes and brought back to the Tuileries. The following year, on 10 August 1792, the Tuileries were stormed by an armed mob, which overwhelmed and massacred the Swiss Guard as the royal family fled through the gardens and took refuge with the Legislative Assembly.

In November 1792, Armoire de fer incident took place at the Tuileries palace. This was the discovery of a hiding place at the Royal apartments, believed to contain the secret correspondence of Louis XVI with various political figures. The incident created a considerable scandal that served to discredit the King.

The Tuileries accommodated the Constituent Assembly, its successor, the National Convention, and, in 1795, the Council of Five Hundred (Conseil des Cinq-Cents) of the Directoire until the body moved to the Palais-Bourbon in 1798. In 1799, the Jacobin Club du Manège had its headquarters there.


When Napoleon Bonaparte came into power in 1799, he made the Tuileries the official residence of the First Consul and, later, the imperial palace. In 1808, Napoleon began constructing the northern gallery which also connected to the Louvre, enclosing a vast square (place).

As Napoleon's chief residence, the Tuileries Palace was redecorated in the Neoclassical Empire style by Percier and Fontaine and some of the best known architects, designers, and furniture makers of the day.

In 1809, Jacob-Desmalter, principal supplier of furniture to the Emperor, began work on a jewel cabinet designed for the Empress Joséphine's great bedroom in the Tuileries (and soon to be used by Marie-Louise). Designed by the architect Charles Percier, this impressive piece of furniture was embellished with several gilt-bronze ornaments: the central panel depicts the "Birth of the Queen of the Earth to whom Cupids and Goddesses hasten with their Offerings" by the bronzier Pierre-Philippe Thomire, after a bas-relief by Chaudet. Jacob-Desmalter completed the "great jewelry box" in 1812, with two smaller items of furniture in the same style but using woods from rainforests in China.

After Napoléon's divorce, Pierre Paul Prud'hon, was commissioned to design the apartments of his new wife, Marie-Louise. For the bridal suite of the new Empress, he designed all the furniture and interior decorations in a Greek Revival style.


The Tuileries Palace became the royal residence at the time of the Bourbon Restoration from 1814 to 1830. During the July Revolution of 1830, the palace was attacked for a third time by an armed mob and occupied. King Louis Philippe I took up permanent residence there until 1848, when it was invaded on 24 February. The Swiss Guards stationed at the palace, aware of what had happened in 1792 to their predecessors, abandoned the palace.

After the coup d'état by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte in 1852, the Tuileries Palace served as the official residence of the executive branch of government, and when President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte became Emperor Napoléon III, he moved from his office at the Élysée Palace to the Tuileries.

The Second Empire

During the Second Empire, the Tuileries was extensively refurbished and redecorated after the looting and damage that occurred during the Revolution of 1848. Some imposing state rooms were designed and richly decorated, serving as the center stage of the ceremonies and pageantry of the Second Empire, such as on the occasion of Queen Victoria's state visit to France in 1855. The Second Empire also completed the northern wing of the Louvre along the rue de Rivoli, linking the Tuileries Palace with the rest of the Louvre, and thus finally achieving the huge complex of the Louvre-Tuileries, whose master plan had been envisioned three centuries earlier.

The prominent roof-lines of the palace and especially its squared central dome were influential prototypes in the Second Empire style adopted for hotels and commercial buildings as well as residences in the United Kingdom and North America.

End of the Tuileries

The finalization of the long planned Louvre-Tuileries complex was not to happen. On 23 May 1871, during the suppression of the Paris Commune, twelve men under the orders of a Communard, Dardelle, set the Tuileries on fire at 7 p.m., using petroleum, liquid tar, and turpentine. The fire lasted for forty-eight hours and entirely consumed the palace. It was only on 25 May that the Paris fire brigades and the 26th battalion of the Africa Chasseurs managed to put out the fire. Other portions of the Louvre were also set on fire by Communards and entirely destroyed. The museum itself was only miraculously saved.

The ruins of the Tuileries stood on the site for eleven years. Although the roofs and the inside of the palace had been utterly destroyed by the fire, the stone shell of the palace remained intact, and restoration was possible. Other monuments of Paris also set on fire by Communards, such as the City Hall, were rebuilt in the 1870s. After much hesitation, the Third Republic eventually decided not to restore the ruins of the Tuileries, which had become a symbol of the former royal and imperial regimes. On the other hand, the portions of the Louvre that had also been destroyed by fire were rebuilt in their original style.


In 1882, the French National Assembly voted for the demolition of the ruins, which were sold to a private entrepreneur for the sum of 33,300 gold francs (approximately US$130,000 in 2005), despite the protests of Baron Haussmann and other members of French artistic and architectural circles, who opposed what they thought was a crime against French arts and history. The demolition was started in February 1883 and completed on 30 September 1883. Bits of stone and marble from the palace were sold by the private entrepreneur as souvenirs and even to build a castle in Corsica, near Ajaccio, the château de la Punta.

Tuileries Garden and the Axe historique

When the large empty space between the northern and southern wings of the Louvre now familiar to modern visitors was revealed in 1883, for the first time the Louvre courtyard opened into an unbroken Axe historique. The Tuileries Garden (French: Jardin des Tuileries) is surrounded by the Louvre (to the east), the Seine (to the south), the Place de la Concorde (to the west) and the Rue de Rivoli (to the north).

The straight line which runs through the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe to La Défense was originally centred on the façade of the Tuileries, a similar line leading across the entrance court of the Louvre. As the two façades were placed at slightly differing angles, this has resulted in a slight 'kink' on the site of the palace a feature ultimately dictated by the curved course of the River Seine.

Tuileries Garden

The Tuileries Garden covers about 63 acres (25 hectares) and still closely follows a design laid out by the royal landscape architect André Le Nôtre in 1664. His spacious formal garden plan drew out the perspective from the reflecting pools one to the other in an unbroken vista along a central axis from the west façade, which has been extended as the Axe historique.

The Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume is a museum of contemporary art located in the northwest corner of the gardens.

Rebuilding the Tuileries?

Since 2003, the Comité national pour la reconstruction des Tuileries has been proposing to rebuild the Tuileries Palace. This effort is similar to the proposal of reconstruction of the Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace). There are several reasons for rebuilding the Palace of the Tuileries. Ever since the destruction of 1883, the famous perspective of the Champs-Élysées, which ended on the majestic façade of the Tuileries Palace, now ends at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, formerly centered on the Tuileries but now occupying a large empty space. The Louvre, with its pyramid on the one hand, and the axis of the Place de la Concorde-Champs-Élysées-Arc de Triomphe on the other, are not aligned on the same axis.

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel fortuitously stands near the intersection of the two axes. The Palace of the Tuileries, which was located at the junction of these two diverging axes, helped to disguise this bending of the axes. Architects argue that the rebuilding of the Tuileries would allow the re-establishment of the harmony of these two different axes. The Tuileries Gardens would also recover their purpose, which was to be a palace garden.

Also, it is emphasized that the Musée du Louvre needs to expand its ground plan to properly display all its collections, and if the Tuileries Palace was rebuilt the Louvre Museum could expand into the rebuilt palace. It is also proposed to rebuild the state apartments of the Second Empire as they stood in 1871. All the plans of the palace and many photographs are stored at the Archives nationales. Furthermore, all the furniture and paintings from the palace survived the 1871 fire because they had been removed in 1870 at the start of the Franco-Prussian War and stored in secure locations.

Today, the furniture and paintings are still deposited in storehouses and not on public display due to the lack of space in the Louvre Museum. It is argued that recreating the state apartments of the Tuileries would allow the display of these treasures of the Second Empire style which are currently hidden.


In 2006 a rebuilding of the Palace of the Tuileries was estimated to cost 300 million euros (US$ 380 million). The plan was to finance the project by public subscription with the work being undertaken by a private foundation, with the French government spending no money on the project. The French president at that time, Jacques Chirac, called for a debate on the subject. Former president Charles de Gaulle had also supported reconstruction, saying that it would "make a jewel of the center of Paris."


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