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This massive building by the edge of the Seine was for decade a prison, a high official of the kingdom, appointed by the king to maintain order and oversee the police and prisoner records. It was part of the former royal palace, the Palais de la Cité, now known as the Palais de Justice, which is still used today for judicial purposes.
Hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution were taken from the Conciergerie to be executed on the guillotine at a number of locations around Paris. Famous prisoners include Queen Marie Antoinette, the poet André Chénier, Charlotte Corday, Madame Élisabeth, Madame du Barry and the 21 Girondins purged at the beginning of the Terror. Georges Danton later awaited his execution here, and during the Thermidorian Reaction, Robespierre himself was interned for a short time before his escape to the Hotel de Ville and final stand there.
After the Restoration of the Bourbons in the 19th century, the Conciergerie continued to be used as a prison for high-value prisoners, most notably the future Napoleon III. Marie Antoinette's cell was converted into a chapel dedicated to her memory. The Conciergerie and Palais de Justice underwent major rebuilding in the mid-19th century, totally altering their external appearance.
The Conciergerie was decommissioned in 1914 and was opened to the public as a national historical monument. It is today a popular tourist attraction, although only a relatively small part of the building is open to public access. You'll discover the massive and imposing architecture with low ceiling and thick pillars which looks like a brooding medieval fortress but actually only dates from about 1858. Today visitors have the chance to get out from the place.