Avignon - Place de l'Horloge - Hotel de Ville - Liberte Egalite Fraternite
The next big square in Avignon is Place de l'Horloge (Clock Tower Square).
In 1447 the councils of Avignon bought the Gothic Livrée d’Albane from the Benedictines of Saint-Laurent with the intention of making it into a public building and transforming the tower into a belfry. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the regional council decided to provide the city with a genuine Hôtel de Ville (City Hall). The city’s architect, Joseph-Auguste Joffroy drew up the plans. To brighten the facade the architect Feuchères contribued a balcony supported by Corinthian columns and added peristyle columns.
This project was at the center of a larger debate pitting the municipality against one of the great defenders of the cultural integrity of buildings, Esprit Requien, who was supported by Prosper Mérimée.
The first stone was lain on March 29, 1845, and municipal service offices were installed in the old Hôtel des Monnaies building, in the interim. While construction was not completely achieved until 1856, the building was inaugurated on September 24, 1851 by the President of the Republic, Prince Louis Napoléon Bonaparte. Paul Poncet was the mayor of Avignon at the time.
The style is composite and differs at each level : round arches topped with double scrolled tympana on the ground level ; a series of rectangular windows on the mezzanine floor ; classic windows topped with triangular pediments and separated by pilasters on the second floor. The cost of construction reached 628.000 francs.
On the tower, on which a campanile was added in 1471, remains of the
original cardinal’s livrée. The tower’s clock, from which the plaza
gets its name, features statues of Jacquemart and his wife which
strike the hour.
The current statues were placed there in 1856.
The municipality of Pourquery de Boisserin undertook the adornment of the main hall by commissioning the ornamenter Edouard Lefèvre of Montpellier, and the local painters Meissonier, Jules Flour, Lina Bill, and Clément-Brun. The four groups of figures surrounding the main doors and female wrestlers at the top of the impressive fireplace of this enormous 90 meters plus room are the work of Félix Charpentier.
In 1978, the Hôtel de Ville added an annex on Rue Racine, behind this building. It was built on the site of what had been the headquarters of the Amis du Roi in the nineteenth century and, from 1840 on, was the Avignon gendarmerie.
I noticed that the Hotel de Ville had Liberte Egalite Fraternite on it (the French moto of the Republic).
Later I found it on the back of one of my €2 Euro coins.