Luxembourg Palace (French: Palais du Luxembourg) is a palace located in Paris, France. Originally conceived as a royal residence for Marie de' Medici, it went on to become a museum, a prison, and finally, the seat of the French Senate, a function it still upholds today.
In 1612, Marie de' Medici, widow of King Henry IV, purchased an extensive domain from the Duke of Piney-Luxembourg, with the intention of erecting a new palace for herself. The residence was constructed along designs of the French architect Salomon de Brosse. Although the proprietress referred to her new home as the Medici Palace, the Parisians insisted on calling it the Luxembourg Palace, due to their dislike of the queen.
In 1750, the Luxembourg Palace became the first museum in Paris, allowing visitors to glimpse the royal collection. King Louis XVI would also gift the palace to his brother in 1778. When the French Revolution broke out, the collection was supposed to be transferred to the Louvre, but the local nobility kept some pieces to themselves. In response, the Parisian Brotherhood sent agents to procure the stolen art, ensuring it would end up in the Louvre as intended.
In 1792, Templar Marie Lévesque hoarded large amounts of grain to sow chaos and discontent amongst the people, hiding the stolen food in the palace's wine cellars. On October the 31st, she organized a gala at the palace, with the intention of having the visitors discover the grain. The citizens of Paris would believe the royal family had been hoarding food in the time of famine, which would add to the growing anti-Royalist sentiment. However, Marie's plans were sabotaged when she was assassinated at her own party by the Assassin Arno Dorian.
Soon after, in 1793, the Luxembourg Palace was briefly converted into the "Maison Nationale de Sûreté", or national prison, as the other prisons could no longer accommodate the large number of convicts. Some historians believe that this was a symbolic move, due to the palace's association with the royal family. Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Antoine Lavoisier, and many others were imprisoned there prior to their execution by guillotine.
In 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte offered the building to the French Senate, which it still houses today. In 1836, the architect Alphonse de Gisors oversaw transformations that modified the overall structure to a great extent. The gardens still remain a favorite among Parisians.
- Marie de' Medici had instructed the original architect to design the Luxembourg Palace to look similar to the Palazzo Pitti from her native Florence.