Temple (Paris)

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The Paris Temple
Paris, France
Tour du Temple circa 1795 Ecole Francaise 18th century.jpg
A view of the Grosse Tour-circa 1795, Ecole Française 18th century.
Type Medieval fortress
Site information
Condition vanished
Site history
Built mid-13th century
Built by Knights Templar
Events French Revolution
The Temple area in 1734 - detail of the Turgot map of Paris.

The Temple was a medieval fortress in Paris, located in what is now the 3rd arrondissement. It was built by the Knights Templar from the 12th century, as their European headquarters. In the 13th century it replaced earlier works of the Vieux Temple (Old Temple) in Le Marais. Parts of the fortress were later used as a prison.

The enclosure (called enclos du Temple) originally featured a number of buildings important to the running of the order, and included a church and a massive turreted keep known as Grosse Tour (great tower), and a smaller tower called Tour de César (Caesar's Tower). The fortress was destroyed in 1808 to avoid the pilgrimage of royalists (since this was the prison of Louis XVI for some time); today, the location of the towers is drawn on the floor in front of the town hall, rue Eugene Spuller. The heavy doors of the Grosse Tour still exist and are kept at Château de Vincennes whose great keep (attributed to Raymond du Temple) is speculated to have been inspired by the nearby Templar fortress.[1]

French Revolution[edit]

The Temple is notorious for having been the French royal family's jail at the time of the Revolution. The royals imprisoned at the Temple's tower were:

In 1808, the Temple having become a place of pilgrimage for royalists, Napoleon ordered its demolition, which took two years. There were remnants left that were demolished around 1860 under orders from Napoleon III. Today its location is a stop-over of the Paris Metro, the carreau du temple and the Palais de Justice (Courthouse) of the third arrondissement.

Surviving doors from the Grosse Tour, now found in the Château de Vincennes

References in literature[edit]

Louis XVI at the Tour du Temple, by Jean-François Garneray (1755-1837).
Marie Antoinette, in the Temple Tower, attributed to Kucharsky

In Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, Jack Aubrey, Stephen Maturin and a young Lithuanian, Jagiello, are held prisoner at the Temple Prison during its demolition in The Surgeon's Mate.


  1. ^ Lorentz, Phillipe; Dany Sandron (2006). Atlas de Paris au Moyen Âge. Paris: Parigramme. p. 238 pp. ISBN 2-84096-402-3. 

Coordinates: 48°51′55″N 2°21′44″E / 48.86528°N 2.36222°E / 48.86528; 2.36222