The Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, commonly known as the Grand Palais (English: Great Palace), is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France.
Construction of the Grand Palais began in 1897 following the demolition of the Palais de l'Industrie (Palace of Industry) as part of the preparation works for the Universal Exposition of 1900, which also included the creation of the adjacent Petit Palais and Pont Alexandre III. The structure was built in the style of Beaux-Arts architecture as taught by the École des Beaux-Arts of Paris. The building reflects the movement's taste for ornate decoration through its stone facades, the formality of its floor planning and the use of techniques that were innovative at the time, such as its glass vault, its structure made of iron and light steel framing, and its use of reinforced concrete. One of its pediments calls it a “monument dedicated by the Republic to the glory of French art”, reflecting its original purpose, that of housing the great artistic events of the city of Paris.
The main space, almost 240 metres long, was constructed with an iron, steel and glass barrel-vaulted roof, making it the last of the large transparent structures inspired by London’s Crystal Palace that were necessary for large gatherings of people before the age of electricity. The main space was originally connected to the other parts of the palace along an east-west axis by a grand staircase in a style combining Classical and Art Nouveau, but the interior layout has since been somewhat modified. The exterior of this massive palace combines an imposing Classical stone façade with a riot of Art Nouveau ironwork, and a number of allegorical statue groups including work by sculptors Paul Gasq, Camille Lefèvre, Alfred Boucher, Alphonse-Amédée Cordonnier and Raoul Verlet. A monumental bronze quadriga by Georges Récipon tops each wing of the main façade. The one on the Champs-Élysées side depicts Immortality prevailing over Time, the one on the Seine side Harmony triumphing over Discord.
The Palais served as a military hospital during World War I, employing local artists that had not deployed to the front to decorate hospital rooms or to make moulds for prosthetic limbs. The Nazis put the Palais to use during the Occupation of France in World War II. First used as a truck depot, the Palais then housed two Nazi propaganda exhibitions. The Parisian resistance used the Grand Palais as a headquarters during the Liberation of Paris. On August 23, 1944, a peace officer fired on an advancing German column from a window on the Avenue de Sèlves, and the Germans responded with a tank attack upon the Palais. The attack ignited hay that was set up for a circus show, and over the next 48 hours, thick black smoke from the fire caused serious damage to the building. On August 26th, American jeeps are parked in the Nave, followed by tanks from the French Second Armored Division, completing the liberation of the building.
A little known fact is that the Grand Palais has a major police station in the basement which helps protect the exhibits on show in the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, and particularly the picture exhibition "Salons" as the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Salon d'Automne and Salon Comparaisons. The building's west wing also contains a science museum, the Palais de la Découverte. The couture fashion house Chanel annually hosts many of its fashion shows here, setting up elaborate and expensive surroundings for its models and hosts. It was the host venue of the 2010 World Fencing Championships. Sculptor Anish Kapoor was commissioned to create "Leviathan", an enormous structure that fills half the Grand Palais. "Leviathan" opened to the public in May 2011.
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|Neighbourhood||Champs-Élysées (8th Arrondissement - l'Élysée)|
|Geographical coordinates||48.8661610, 2.3125530|
|Address||75008 Paris, Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt 21|
|Construction dates||1897 -|
|More information||official website|