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History of Paris


Known as Lutetia in Antiquity, Paris was conquered by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, and existed as a regional center under the Romans in the early Middle Ages. In 987, Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, became King of France and, under his successors, the Capetiens, the position of the city as the capital of the nation was established. Often described as fiery and rebellious, the Parisian people first declared themselves an independent commune under the leadership of Etienne Marcel in 1355-1388. The storming of the Bastille in 1789 is the first of a series of decisive acts conducted by the Parisian people during the French revolution. Paris also played a major role in the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. In 1871, during the Franco-Prussian war, the city was besieged for four months until the capitulation of France. After the withdrawal of the German troops, the French radicals briefly established the Common de Paris. During the First World War, the Germans were prevented from reaching Paris, but they occupied the city during the Second World War from 1940 to 1944. Paris was again the scene of violence during the student riots of 1968.


The historic district along the Seine in the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Popular sights in the city center include the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and the Gothic Royal Chapel of Sainte-Chapelle, both located on Ile de la Cité; the Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris; the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris; the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Élysées and the basilica of the Sacré-Coeur on the hill of Montmartre.