Paris – Ile De France

Quartier du Temple – Historic Marais – Paris

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Quartier du Temple

The Quartier du Temple is located in the historical Marais.

The 3rd district is divided in 4 administrative quartiers.

However, this small enclave of the Rive Droite is also commonly known as Quartier du Temple.

The Square du Temple and Carreau du Temple were indeed developed on the site of the Enclos du Temple, the fortified monastery built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century.

The religious order was founded in Jerusalem in 1128 after the First Crusade, and was officially endorsed by the Church of Rome a year later.

Almighty lords and monks-soldiers, the Knights Templar protected the pilgrims in the Holy Land.

The King of France rewarded them with significant donations of money and land for their unconditional support and bravery during the Crusades.

These donations allowed the Templars to found 9000 estates or commanderies throughout Europe.

The wealth of the Order kept increasing as the Templars realized successful financial operations and founded a series of international bank deposits.

Such was their wealth that they even lent money to the King of France and the Pope!

Enclos du Temple

One of the plots of land they had been given was located to the north of the Place de Grève.

The Right Bank was then a vast marsh (hence its name of Marais) formed by an ancient meander of the Seine.

The Templars drained and deforested their land.

They built the Enclos du Temple, a vast enclosure that extended over 130 hectares and was protected by an 8m tall perimeter wall.

The Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar settled in the Enclos du Temple after the capture of St. Jean d’Acre by the Muslims and the definitive loss of Palestine in 1291.

The fortified monastery included a donjon or keep, a church and a multitude of outbuildings, shops, workshops and dwellings.

The Enclos was an ‘independent city’ within the city of Paris!

The donjon was a massive crenelated tower flanked by four smaller pepper-roof towers; the church was a replica of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.

Generations of craftsmen lived there, protected by the Templars and exempted from royal taxes.

King Philip the Fair eventually resented the ever-growing power and immense wealth of the Order as a threat to his authority.

He had the Order dissolved in 1313, seized their assets and sentenced the Great Master of the Order, Jacques de Molay, to be burnt at the stake in 1314 on what has become the Square du Vert Galant on the Ile de la Cité.

He bequeathed the fortified monastery to the Hospitallers of St-John of Jerusalem (who founded the Order of Malta in the 16th century).

Their Grand Prior, Jacques Souvres, altered the layout of the ramparts in 1667 in order to build a palace.

Development of the district

The Enclos du Temple became State property during the French Revolution; the rampart was pulled down and the land sold by plots.

The Donjon du Temple was, however, kept and converted into a jail where Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their children were imprisoned.

Louis XVI left the donjon on 21 January 1793 and was taken to the Place de la Concorde to be executed.

Napoleon demolished the church and the donjon in 1808 in order to avoid the latter from being turned into a site of pilgrimage.

He also wanted to eradicate all memory of these tragic years.

The donjon was located at the junction of Rue Perrée and Rue Eugène-Spuller.

The Carreau du Temple and the north wing of the Mairie du 3eme arrondissement (3rd district town hall) were erected on its site.

You’ll find a commemorative slab on the wall of the town hall.

The Prior’s palace and the outbuildings accommodated a Benedictine convent until 1848.

They were then converted into army barracks and finally pulled down in 1853.

The Square du Temple was landscaped on their site.

Nothing is therefore left of the fortified Enclos du Temple.

However, many of the Quartier du Temple’s streets and sites still bear its memory in their name.

Discover them as you stroll along the Quartier du Temple, one of the most picturesque historical districts of Paris!

Metro: Temple on Line 3
Coordinates: Lat 48.864304 – Long 2.361835
Photo Wikimedia Commons: Donjon du Temple

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