By Patrick Robert

In 2007, UNESCO inscribed on the World Heritage List half of the city of Bordeaux, 1810 ha and 376 buildings. Every month, discover in this space an emblematic monument of the city. 

This month: Place des Quinconces

L’Esplanade des Quinconces lined with trees planted in quinconces occupies a vast location of 12 hectares (including 6 of green spaces) along the Garonne, making it the largest square in Europe. 

Place des Quinconces was created in ten years, from 1818 to 1828, on the area formerly occupied by the Château Trompette. In 1816, Louis XVIII had handed over to the municipality the property of the Château Trompette, a vast fortress built in the 15th century by Charles VII, to establish the authority of the Kings of France over Bordeaux taken from the English. The municipality took over the demolition and development of the land.

In front of a hemicycle, the esplanade is a terrace that gradually catches up with the slope of the ground, overlooking the quay to which one descends by monumental stairs. Paths, walks planted with trees, extend on each side slightly below. The square also houses the colossal white marble statues of Montaigne and Montesquieu carved by Maggesi (circa 1845).

It was not until 1883 that the decision was made to erect a monument to the Girondins and the Republic on the Place des Quinconces. It took fifteen years to realize it. The famous Girondins column, 43 meters high, raised in 1895 by Dumilâtre and Rich, is surmounted by a statue of Liberty.

At the foot of the column were built the statues of the city of Bordeaux, the Garonne and the Dordogne but the Girondins deputies are lacking.  The sea horses and bronze groups placed at the side basins, removed under German occupation during the Second World War, were solemnly restored in 1985. Protected as a historic monument since 2002, the column was the subject of security and heritage restoration works in 2006.

In the neo-classical style, the rostral columns were built by Pierre-Alexandre Poitevin in 1828, at the eastern end of the Place des Quinconces. Twenty-one meters high, each column has been adorned in the lower third, by the Italian ornemanist N. Bonino, with four prowls of protruding galleys of rostrum formed by two beams of three glaives. The rostras recall the victory of the Roman fleets over those of Carthage and, since ancient times, signify the triumphal mastery of the seas.

Many events take place throughout the year. It is on this square that the Pink Floyd gave their only concert in Bordeaux, August 11, 1994.