sites of public execution


It is estimated that between 16,000 and 40,000 people died by guillotine or while awaiting trial during the Reign of Terror, which began in the fall of 1793. By the summer of 1794, Parisians were sick with the smell of blood and death. On the 8th of June, 1794, the neighborhoods forced the guillotine to be moved to the far western outskirts of the city, to what was then called Place du Trône-Renversé. Executions began here on June 9th and continued for less than two months, killing approximately 1,300 men and women of all ages. There was so much blood that it became necessary to build a kind of sanguiduct to carry off the streams from the square. The bodies and heads filled the existing cemetery ditches so quickly, that a new cemetery was founded in the garden of the convent at Picpus. The guillotine was moved again on July 27th to the Place de la Revolution for the execution of Robespierre and twenty-one of his followers who were put to death on the following day, July 28th, 1794, thus ceremonially ending the Reign of Terror.

The statue in the Place de la Nation today, Triumph of the Republic by Aimé-Jule Dalou, was erected as a centennial monument to the French Revolution. In the center stands liberty, led and guarded by tamed lions, a former symbol of the monarchy. Her chariot is surrounded by symbols of the importance of the working class and of education. This site is still an important political location for the people of Paris. Contemporary demonstrations and marches congregate and culminate here, often with protestors climbing lady liberty and draping her with their slogans.


Site of Public Executions by Guillotine
1,300 executed between
June 14 – July 27, 1794

(Place de Nation, formally Place du Trone Renverse, Paris)

20 x 21", 2007