The Colonne de Juillet (July Column) in the center of Place de la BastilleThere are a few landmarks in Paris that one should never forget to visit. While the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe are most often visited, the Place de la Bastille and the Colonne de Juillet (July Column) are generally omitted. But going back into the Paris history, one finds Place de la Bastille and the July Column to have very significant importance.
That was a big surprise and we hurriedly dashed towards the place and found the Place de la Bastille bustling with tourists and visitors with its mighty July Column lit adorably in the centre of the square. The July Column is made of steel and bronze standing 52 meters high and weighs 170 tons.
As per Wikipedia, The Bastille was built between 1370 and 1383 during the reign of King Charles V as part of the defenses of Paris, the structure was converted into a state prison in the 17th century. It began to acquire a poor reputation when it became the main prison for those taken under lettres de cachet issued by the King of France.
Adding more to its description, here is how Wikipedia continues to describe its history:
In terms of standards, there were many worse prisons in France, including the dreaded Bicêtre, also in Paris. However, in terms of popular literary accounts, the Bastille was a place of horror and oppression, a symbol of autocratic cruelty. The Bastille prison was stormed and was destroyed between 14 July 1789 and 14 July 1790 during the French Revolution.
On 16 June 1792, the area occupied by the Bastille was turned into a square celebrating liberty, and a column would be erected there. The first stone was laid by Palloy; however, construction never took place, and a fountain was built instead in 1793.
In 1808, as part of several urban improvement projects for Paris, Napoléon planned to have a monument in the shape of an elephant built here, the Elephant of the Bastille. It was designed to be 24 m (78 ft) in height, and to be cast from the bronze of cannons taken from the Spanish. Access to the top was to be achieved by a stairway set in one of the legs. However, only a full-scale plaster model was built. Victor Hugo immortalized the monument in the novel Les Misérables where it is used as a shelter by Gavroche. The monument was demolished in 1846.
In 1833, Louis-Philippe decided to build the July Column as originally planned in 1792. It was inaugurated in 1840.
The inscriptions, on the base, are known as Trois Glorieuses — the "three glorious" days of 27–29 July 1830 that saw the fall of King Charles X of France and the commencement of the "July Monarchy" of Louis-Philippe, King of the French.
A clearer photo of Génie de la Liberté [Photo: Wikipedia]
On one side of the base (as seen above) is written "The Law of December 3, 1830" and "The Law of March 9, 1833". These two laws state that a monument will be erected in the Place de la Bastille commemorating the events of July. Besides on the column itself, names of the 504 martyrs are inscribed. In 1848, the 196 victims of the 1848 February Revolution were buried along with those who died in the 1830 uprising, in the National Library garden.
July the 14th is observed as the Republic Day (Bastille Day) in France and an impressive military parade takes place the on the Champs Elysees.
For those who want to go up to the top of the column, there are 238 steps which allowed access to the top of the column. This spiral stairway is, unfortunately, no longer available to the public [Source].