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Porte Saint-Martin, a triumphal arch for Louis XIV

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Porte Saint-Martin, a triumphal arch

Porte Saint-Martin connects Boulevard Saint-Martin to Boulevard Saint-Denis (Grands Boulevards), at the crossroads with Rue Saint-Martin.

The impressive monument is not an old fortified gate.

It's one of two triumphal arches (Porte Saint-Denis) that commemorate Louis XIV's military victories on the Rhine and in Franche-Comté.

In 1674, the Sun King indeed commissioned the architect Pierre Bullet with its construction.

This triumphal arch bears the same name as the three previous fortified gates that stood on the successive medieval ramparts.

Their location changed with each expansion of Paris, whenever the city boundaries were pushed outward in order to gain additional building land.

However, the third gate was still about 60m farther south than the current Porte Saint-Martin.

It indeed stood at the crossroads of rue Saint-Martin , rue Blondel and rue Apolline.

North facade

The 18m high Porte Saint Martin was built with limestone, with the exception of its upper part, which is in marble.

Allegorical low-reliefs adorn the upper corners of its central arch, on both facades.

On the north facade, Pierre 1er Legros sculpted a woman sat near a lying lion in order to depict The capture of Limburg.

Gaspard Marsay represented Louis XIV as the god Mars; the king wears the coat-of-arms of the kingdom of France and pushes back the Germanic Eagle in order to illustrate The defeat of the Germans.

The top of the facade is inscribed with the following dedication:

LUDDOVICO MAGNO QUOD LIMBURGO CAPTO IMPOTENT HOSTIUM MINAS UBIC REPRESSIT. Praef. AND AEDIL. P.C.C. ANN. R. S. MDCLXXV

Louis the Great, who after the taking of Limburg drove back all his powerless and menacing enemies. The prefect of the merchants and the alderman of Paris in 1675.

South facade

Etienne Le Hongre sculpted the low relief that symbolizes The Break of the Triple Alliance.

He represented Louis XIV under the features of Hercules; half-naked, the Sun King wears his wig and holds his club, and tramples on Acheloos and Geryon.

Finally, Martin van de Bogaert sculpted The Taking of Besancon; Louis XIV stands under a Fame and in front of a palm tree and an olive tree; a woman with a knee on the ground hands him the keys of the city.

The inscription above reads:

LUDOVICO MAGNO VESONTIONE SEQUANISQUE BIS CAPTIS AND FRACTIS GERMANORUM HISPABORUM BATAVORUMQUE EXERCITIBUS. Praef. AND AEDIL. P.C.C. ANN. R. S. MDCLXXIV

Louis the Great, who twice took Besancon and the land of the Sequani and defeated the armies of the Germans, Spaniards and Batavians. The prefect of the merchants and the alderman of Paris in 1674.

The Porte Saint-Martin was classified Historic Monument in 1862 and fully restored in 1988.

Directions: 10th district
Metro: Strasbourg-Saint-Denis on Lines 4, 8, 9
Coordinates: Lat 48.869148 – Long 2.355682

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