Architectural Buildings of the World: Hotel de Ville

Hotel de Ville, Paris.
Hotel de Ville, Paris.

Hôtel de Ville is Paris’ city administration building. It is located close to River Seine in central Paris. The land where Hôtel de Ville stands has been the site of the city’s municipal headquarters since the 14th century. The square at Hôtel de Ville is the most vibrant square in Paris. Numerous exhibitions and celebrations are held at the site annually.

Description and History

In 1357, the mayor of Paris bought a mansion by the busy River Seine. The location served as a river port for the thriving city of Paris. The mayor moved the city’s administration into the mansion known as Maison aux Piliers (House of Pillars). Two centuries later in 1533, King Francis I hired architects Dominique de Cortone and Pierre Chambiges to design the Hôtel de Ville which would serve as the city hall of Paris. The architects designed a grand, well-lit, and refined building fit to be Paris’ center of administration. Hôtel de Ville’s construction went on until 1628 during King Louis XIII’s reign. The building remained unchanged until 1835 when two wings were constructed each on one end of the building. In 1871, Hôtel de Ville was set ablaze by communards at the time of the Paris Commune. Reconstruction of Hôtel de Ville began in 1873. Architects Édouard Deperthes and Théodore Ballu led the reconstruction work and they retained the original Renaissance style on the exterior but refurbished the interior with lavish new designs of the 19th century. The Grand Hôtel de Ville has a giant clock adorned with feminine sculptures on the central tower. The interior is dotted with numerous chandeliers, stained glass windows, and a large staircase.


Hôtel de Ville is located in central Paris. It is Paris’ oldest square and it is in the neighborhood of iconic monuments in Paris, which include the Notre Dame Cathedral and Centre Pompidou. The building is decorated with over 100 statues of prominent Parisians. In the 18th and 19th century, the square was famous for public executions.


Hôtel de Ville is popular with local and international tourists. The building’s ideal location in central Paris makes it easy to access. It has a large spacious front where numerous exhibitions take place throughout the year. Additionally, during national sporting events, giant screens are put in front of Hôtel de Ville, and huge crowds gather to watch. In winter, tourists flock Hôtel de Ville where the open space is converted into a skating rink. Visitors also get to take a walk inside the building where they learn about the history of Paris.

Significant events at Hôtel de Ville

Hôtel de Ville was an important location for many political events in Paris. In October 1870, rebels broke into Hôtel de Ville and captured the Office of National Defence. The rebels demanded the creation of a Communard government. The captured officials were rescued by French soldiers through an existing underground tunnel. On January 18th, 1871, protesters gathered outside Hôtel de Ville protesting against France’s surrender to the Prussians. Soldiers inside the building fired at the protesters killing some of them. President Charles de Gaulle delivered his famous Liberation speech from Hôtel de Ville on August 24th, 1944.

Threats and Conservation Efforts

Hôtel de Ville faced a significant threat in 1871 when it was set on fire by Communards. The inside of the building and important public records were destroyed in the fire. As a measure to protect the building, Hôtel de Ville was locked out to the public. It became open to the public in 1982. Hôtel de Ville is managed and protected by the municipal council of Paris. The city officials ensure that the building is preserved in its most authentic form.


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