Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France met her final fate on this day, 16 October, 225 years ago. Imprisoned with the rest of the royal family at the Temple Prison since 13 August 1792, she was moved to the Conciergerie under the cover of darkness on 1 August 1793 and would remain for her last 76 days. Held in a small cell and watched by two guards every second of the day until her quick trial on the 14 of October.
Today in that same spot where she would spend her final days is a chapel dedicated to her. In 1816 Louis XVIII wanted to bring back the glory of the Bourbons and to re-establish the name of his brother Louis XVI and his Queen Marie Antoinette ordered that a chapel be built in the Conciergerie to honor her. The small chapel is painted dark navy blue with silver tears painted on the wall, artwork hangs depicting those last days of her life and an altar to the memory of the fallen king and queen is built in the place where her bed once lay and she spent her final night alive.
On the morning of 16 of October she was sentenced to death, and just a few hours later she was lead up the steps into the Cour Mai of the Tribunal and placed on a cart while hundreds gathered to watch the once glamours queen be carted off by horses. More than 30,000 people stood in silence along the short route to Place de la Republic, now Place de la Concorde and gathered below the stage. At 12:15 she was lead up the steps to the guillotine, and well you know what happens next.
Her body was tossed into an unmarked grave at the nearby cemetery of the Madeline church until the start of the 19th century. In 1802 the land was sold to Pierre-Louis Desclozeaux who had lived next to the cemetery since 1789 and kept track of the location of the remains of the king and queen and planted trees and weeping willows to mark the spot. In 1815 he sold the land to Louis XVIII who then had them exhumed and taken to the Basilica Saint-Denis. On 21 January 1815, they would reach their last destination in the final resting place of the long line of the French monarchy before them.
In 1816 he had the Chapelle Expiatoire built in the spot their remains were location and dedicated to the memory of his brother and sister in law. It is a somber and beautiful place with statues to both Marie and Louis and a black marble altar marks the spot where the remains and the weeping willow once stood. In a time that anything that belonged too or had any link to royalty was destroyed, it's nice a small part of it was saved to see today.
The Chapelle Expiatoire, Chapel Expiatory of the Conciergerie and Basilica Saint Denis can be visited and is mostly shielded from crowds of tourists. And if like me you are a lover of French history, Marie Antoinette and the architecture of Paris, it's all places you must see. At all of these places it was not hard to be overcome by emotions, especially when you are standing in the footsteps of history and Marie Antoinette. Oh and also she NEVER said "let them eat cake"