The Bastille - History and Facts | History Hit

The Bastille

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

The Bastille was a prison stormed in 1789, sparking the French Revolution. It was later destroyed and its location is now marked by a monument.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Bastille

The Bastille was a fourteenth century fortress turned prison in Paris which would become central in igniting the French Revolution.

The Bastille history

France’s heavy involvement in the American War of Independence, coupled with decades’ worth of tax evasion and corruption from the church and the elite, meant that by the late 1780s the country was facing an economic crisis.

This was felt most keenly in cities that were growing in tandem with the Industrial Revolution, and starving Parisians in particular had been restless for months. France’s medieval system of government only exacerbated tensions.

On 14 July 1789, a large group descended on the Bastille demanding that its prisoners – by now only seven were held there – be released. Their main aim was to have access to weapons and gunpowder that were held in the Bastille.

After some negotiations, the crowd became restless and stormed the prison, an incident known as the “Storming of the Bastille”. Whilst the storming of the Bastille had been preceded by general turmoil in Paris, this chaotic event is widely considered to have been the catalyst of the French Revolution. It was followed by the abolition of feudalism and the signing of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a central document of the revolution.

The Bastille was later torn down by the revolutionary government. It was located in what is now known as Place de la Bastille, as shown on the map.

The Bastille today

Place de la Bastille is now a busy junction with a plaque about the prison. It is centred on a tall statue called Colonne de Juillet – the July Column – which commemorates the events leading up to the revolution.

Some remains of the Bastille building can now be seen at Square Henri Galli, a small park nearby.

Getting to The Bastille

Place de la Bastille is located right in the centre of Paris. The closest stations to Place de la Bastille are: Bastille – Rue Saint-Antoine (71 meters away, 2 min walk), Bastille (120 meters away, 2 min walk) and Bastille – Henri IV (125 meters away, 2 min walk). Bus routes 29, 69, 86, 87 and 91 all will take you to the site.

As it is a busy junction, parking near the site is limited

Featured In

Paris Historic Sites

The City of Light has captured the hearts and minds of all who wander through it for centuries. Here's our pick of 10 of the best historic sites to visit while you're there.

France Historic Sites

From towering imposing castles to First World War trenches, ancient Roman ruins to historic Revolutionary sites, France is brimming with relics of its esteemed and turbulent history. Here's our pick of 10 of the very best attractions in the country.

French Revolution Sites

The French Revolution is seared into the bloody fabric of France's history. As a result, the country is home to a number of historic sites which offer an insight into this period of unrest. h