Bastille (Paris, 18th century)

Bastille (Paris, 18th century)

The Parisian prison became legendary after the Revolution of 1789.



Bastille, fortress, revolution, Saint-Antoine gate, Paris, prison, France, rook, watchtower, parapet, circular bastion, Charles V, stone wall, modern history, siege, history

Related items


  • Which of these was not a part of the Bastille´s defenses?


  • five-storied tower
  • length: 66 m (217 ft)
  • height: 24 m (79 ft)
  • width: 30 m (98 ft)

  • length: 66 m (217 ft)
  • height: 24 m (79 ft)
  • width: 30 m (98 ft)


The Bastille in Paris was originally a medieval fortress. Commissioned by Charles V during the Hundred Years War, it was completed in 1383. After the war, it lost its defensive function and French monarchs started using it as a prison.

The floor plan for the building was nearly rectangular: it measured 66 m (217 ft) in length and 30 m (98 ft) in width. Eight five-story towers were erected along the walls, which were 24 m (79 ft) high. Built to the same height, the roofs of the towers and the tops of the walls formed a broad walkway around the fortress. This allowed for rapid movement and more effective protection by the soldiers and artillery.

The broad moat formed around the fortress and the high walls also reinforced it. The Bastille was only accessible through a drawbridge leading to the gate between the two western towers.

The inner courtyard was divided in two by a building. Because of its many illustrious prisoners, the Bastille was more 'pleasant' than other contemporary prisons.

However, it acquired a very poor reputation due to the fact that most of its prisoners were taken on the king's orders, and the charges and conditions in the prison were not known to the public. Once released, prisoners also contributed to the bad reputation with their exaggerated or false reports.

But on July 14, 1789, it was not because it was a hated symbol of tyrannical power that the angry Parisian crowd stormed the prison. Their reason was simple: they wanted to gain access to the large cache of weapons and gunpowder stored within its walls. The fall of the Bastille, however, became a flashpoint for the French Revolution. In the prevailing chaos after the events, a group with official authorisation demolished the building by 1790, erasing it from the map of Paris.

Related items

Medieval towers and bastions

The structure of fortresses developed together with military technology.

Acropolis (Athens, 5th century B.C.)

The world's most famous citadel, the Acropolis of Athens was built in the 5th century B.C., during the Age of Pericles.

Clothing (Western Europe, 18th century)

Clothing reflects the lifestyle and culture of the region's inhabitants.

Gothic brick castle (Gyula, Hungary)

A brick castle in South-East Hungary; its oldest parts were probably built in the late 14th century.


The device designed to carry out executions more humanely than before was named after a French doctor.

Medieval dungeon

A wide variety of torture devices were in use in medieval dungeons.

Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon I, who crowned himself emperor, was one of the most outstanding military commanders in history.

Soviet labor camp (1930s)

Soviet labor camps (Gulags) were located far from inhabited areas.

Tower of London (16th century)

The intriguing history of this historic castle spans nearly a thousand years.

Trojan horse

According to Homer’s epic, Odysseus’ Stratagem caused the loss of Troy.

Arc de Triomphe (Paris, 1836)

The construction of the arch of triumph was completed only after Napoleon´s fall, in 1836.

Louis XIV (the Sun King)

The French monarch got his epithet because of his opulent and extravagant lifestyle.

Napoleon´s soldier (19th century)

Napoleon Bonaparte´s Grande Armée was considered invincible.

Panthéon (Paris, 18th century)

The most important Neoclassicist building in France, completed in 1791, became the final resting place of many of France´s greats.

Cannon operation (18th century)

The cannon was an important type of firearms at the beginning of modern history, widespread both on land and water.

Eiffel Tower (Paris, 1889)

The iron lattice tower, erected for the 1889 World Fair, became the symbol of the capital city of France.

Added to your cart.