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A huge elephant in the heart of Paris

13th Mar '17

In 1806, just after his triumphant victory against the Austrians and the Russians, Napoleon decided to build a monument in Paris to the glory of his great army. Originally, he wanted this work to be placed at the center of the “Place de la Bastille”, but his prime minister suggested to preserve the remains of the revolution and suggested to place the building in the Chaillot district (close to the Champs Élysées), a deserted area which needed develop its local trade and its real estate.

The emperor immediately liked the concept, but yet a problem had to be solved: what kind of monument would be built? An ark? Why not, but there was already an “Arche de triomphe” in front of the Louvre. A more original sculpture, symbolizing the strength of the armies? Yes! Thus, Napoleon gave his consent to the construction of a huge elephant statue, which interior would be converted into a museum to the glory of the Empire. Surrounded by a large fountain, the monument would be built with the molten bronze of the cannons that the empire had confiscated from Spanish !

Regrettably, this very original idea was stopped at the stage of prototyping and the Emperor decided to switch back to the “Arc de Triomphe” project, in order to show his power in the manner of the great old roman emperors. Thus, the elephant was never built while the “Column of July” was erected in the heart of the “Place de la Bastille”…

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