March 16, 2012

0149 FRANCE (Grand Est) - Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance in Nancy - Opéra national de Lorraine (UNESCO WHS)


Capital city of Lorraine (region disputed over time, along with Alsace, by the French and German), Nancy has a rich history, as the ducal city between 13th and 18th centuries, capital of an independent state until 1766, border city between 1871 and 1914, and the center of Art Nouveau in the late 19th century. The old centre dates from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, the cathedral of Nancy, the Triumphal Arch and the Place de la Carriere being fine examples of 18th century architecture. The École de Nancy (a group of artists and architects founded by Émile Gallé, which worked in the Art Nouveau style at the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century), has turned the city in a centre of art and architecture that rivaled Paris, bringing him the nickname Capitale de l'Est.

The Place Stanislas (Stanislas Square), named after the king of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and duke of Lorraine Stanisław Leszczyński (1677-1766), Place de la Carrière, and Place d'Alliance (Alliance Square) were added on the World Heritage Sites list by the UNESCO in 1983, being considered by the commission "a masterpiece of the creative genius". Place Stanislas was a major project in urban planning dreamt up by Stanisław Leszczyński as a way to connect the medieval town and the new town, built under Charles III in 1581. The square would also be a place royale to honour his son-in-law, Louis XV. The design has linked two buildings that already existed (the Hôtel de Ville and the Hôtel du Gouvernement), and the seat of city government and the seat of ducal government faced one another as complements through a series of symmetrical, yet varied urban spaces unequalled in Europe at that time.

The square and the surrounding buildings were designed by the royal architect Emmanuel Héré de Corny (1705–1763). Construction began in March 1752 and ended in November 1755. The square has always been used for public assemblies and festivities, but it has undergone several make-overs in its history, even serving as a parking lot between 1958 and 1983. In 2004 and 2005 the square underwent a massive restoration, inspired by the original 18th-century plans. The inauguration of the new Place Stanislas in May 2005 coincided with the square's 250th anniversary and reunited the heads of state of France, Germany and Poland for the occasion.

The Place Stanislas is 125m long and 106m wide, and it’s paved with light ochre stones, with two lines of darker stones forming a diagonal cross motif. The square is surrounded by an ensemble of buildings, most notably being:
● The City Hall of Nancy (Hôtel de Ville), which occupies the entire South side of the square, with the Préfecture of Meurthe-et-Moselle at the South-East corner;
● Opéra national de Lorraine (formerly the bishop's palace - in the image) and the Grand Hôtel (originally the Hôtel de la Reine, actually occupied by the Intendant Alliot) to the East;
● The Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux Arts, originally the Collège de Médecine) and the Pavillon Jacquet to the West.

The original theatre, located behind the Fine Arts Museum, was destroyed by fire in October 1905 and a new opera house was constructed in its present location by Joseph Hornecker and was inaugurated in 1919. The concrete architecture is hidden behind a setting inspired by the Opera Garnier. Formerly named the Opéra de Nancy et de Lorraine, it was given the status of "national opera" in 2006.

On the North side, the buildings were kept lower for defensive purposes (to permit crossfire between the Vaudemont and Haussonville bastions). An Arc de Triomphe by Héré stands in the centre of the fourth side, leading to the adjoining Place de la Carrière. The four corners and West and East sides of the square feature gilded wrought iron gates and lanterns, created by Jean Lamour (1698-1771), and the North-West and North-East corners feature ornate fountains designed by Barthélémy Guibal (1699-1757). On the postcard can be seen also (on the left) one of the gates (which currently is entry into the Terrase de la Pépinière) and Fontaine d'Amphitrite (Fountain of Amphitrite).

The stamp is the same blue Marianne et l'Europe about which I wrote here.

Sender: Marie Morlon (direct swap)
Sent from Metz (France), on 22.02.2012

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