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Place Stanislas

The Place Stanislas, known colloquially as the place Stan', is a large pedestrianized square in Nancy, Lorraine, France. Since 1983, the architectural ensemble comprising the Place Stanislas and the extension of its axis, the Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance, has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.



After the War of the Polish Succession in 1737, the Duchy of Upper Lorraine, of which Nancy was the capital, was given to Stanisław Leszczyński, former king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and father-in-law to King Louis XV of France. An earlier ruler, Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, had undertaken a lot of reconstruction in Lorraine, which had been ravaged by a series of wars. He'd surrounded himself by artists and architects including Germain Boffrand, who trained Emmanuel Héré: hence Stanisław found a pool of talent and experience to draw from on his arrival.

Design and construction

The square was a major project in urban planning dreamt up by Stanisław Leszczyński as a way to link the medieval old town of Nancy and the new town built under Charles III in the 17th century. The square would also be a place royale to honour his son-in-law, Louis XV. The design linked two handsome buildings that already existed, the Hôtel de Ville, now centred on its grand square, and the Hôtel du Gouvernement. The seat of city government and the seat of ducal government faced one another as complements through a series of rational, symmetrical, yet varied urban spaces unequalled in Europe at the time.

The square and the surrounding buildings, unified by their colossal orders, were designed by the royal architect Emmanuel Héré de Corny (1705–63). Construction began in March 1752 and ended in November 1755. Barthélémy Guibal and Paul-Louis Cyfflé created a bronze statue of Louis XV, which stood in the middle of the square until it was removed during the Revolution and replaced with a simple winged figure. The square was renamed "Place du Peuple", and later "Place Napoléon". In 1831, a bronze statue of Stanisław (Stanislas in French) was placed in the middle of the square, since then known as the "Place Stanislas".

The square has always been used for public assemblies and festivities, but it has undergone several make-overs in its history, even serving as a parking lot between 1958 and 1983. In 2004 and 2005 the square underwent a massive restoration, inspired by the original 18th-century plans. The ten-month project cost approximately 9 million euros. The inauguration of the new Place Stanislas in May 2005 coincided with the square's 250th anniversary.


The Place Stanislas is 125 meters long and 106 meters wide. It is paved with light ochre stones, with two lines of darker stones forming a diagonal cross motif. The square is surrounded by an architecturally harmonious ensemble of buildings, most notably:
  • The City Hall of Nancy (Hôtel de Ville), which occupies the entire South side of the square, with the Préfecture of Meurthe-et-Moselle at the South-East corner;
  • To the East, the Opéra-Theâtre (formerly the bishop's palace) and the Grand Hôtel (originally the Hôtel de la Reine, actually occupied by the Intendant Alliot);
  • To the West, the Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux Arts, originally the Collège de Médecine) and the Pavillon Jacquet;
  • On the North side, the buildings were kept lower for defensive purposes (to permit crossfire between the Vaudemont and Haussonville bastions).
An Arc de Triomphe by Héré stands in the centre of the fourth side, leading to the adjoining Place de la Carrière, where the main axis is developed as a double avenue of trees, with symmetrical buildings facing each other down its length.

At the far end is the Place d'Alliance, defined by the hemicycles of colonnades that enclose the sides and are carried across the pre-existing façade of the Palais du Gouvernement.

The statue in the center of the Place Stanislas, created by Georges Jacquot (1794–1874), represents Stanislas standing, dressed in flowing robes, holding a sword in his left hand and pointing towards the north with his right hand. The inscriptions on the high marble pedestal read :

• South face :     "Stanislas Leszczynski, Roi de Pologne, Duc de Lorraine et de Bar, 1737-1766"
    (Stanislas Leszczynski, King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine and Bar, 1737–1766)
• North face :     "A Stanislas le Bienfaisant, la Lorraine Reconnaissante, 1831, Meurthe-Meuse-Vosges"
    (To Stanislas the Benefactor, Lorraine [is] grateful, 1831, Meurthe-Meuse-Vosges)

The four corners and West and East sides of the square feature gilded wrought iron gates and lanterns, created by Jean Lamour (1698–1771), who was also responsible for the wrought iron balustrade on the main staircase in the Hôtel de Ville and the balcony across the center of its main façade. The North-West and North-East corners also feature ornate fountains designed by Barthélémy Guibal (1699–1757).

Hôtel de Ville

The Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), also known as Palais de Stanislas (Stanislas' palace), is the largest building in the square: 98 m long, it occupies the whole south side of the square. It was built in 1752–55, and has served as the city hall since its construction. It was designated as a monument historique on 12 July 1886.

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