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Notes on the Geography of France: Paris 2: Classical: Photo 15

world pictures France: Paris 2: Classical

And now for something frivolous. This is the Palais Garnier or Opera, completed in 1875 and built with an iron frame. It has a modern skeleton, in other words, despite all the dressing up with the round pediments of the Lescot Wing and the paired columns from Perrault's east facade. An earlier opera house had been demolished in 1820 after the assassination there of the heir to throne, the Duc de Berry. An assassination attempt on Napoleon III in 1858 at another opera house triggered the construction of this one, designed with an eye to security, for example placing the building as an island, without nearby alleys into which an assassin could disappear. The Empress Eugenie anticipated that the architect would be Viollet-le-Duc, master of the Gothic. Instead the competition judges awarded the project to Charles Garnier, who to that point had done only one building. This one would keep him busy for 15 years; afterwards, he virtually retired.

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