Image en vue du haut de la place Stanislas

Place Stanislas and the UNESCO buildings

Stanislas Leszczynski was passionate about art and architecture and was influential in transforming the city of Nancy, with the construction of three squares listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1983. Place Stanislas was pedestrianised in 2005 and is considered once of the most beautiful squares in the world, recommended by numerous travel guides, in particular Lonely Planet.

The architectural ensemble of the eighteenth century

Stanislas "the Benefactor" was a visionary and humanist who left a lasting impression on the Lorraine region. He was responsible for so many remarkable buildings, such as the châteaux in Lunéville and Commercy. But it is in Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, where his heritage assumes a royal dimension, and nowadays has also achieved international renown.

When he arrived in the ducal city, it was divided into two areas, separated by ramparts: the medieval OldTown with its ducal palace and the contrasting Renaissance New Town characterised by its parallel straight roads.

Having chosen the esplanade dividing the two towns as the site for a royal square in the classic and rococo style, Stanislas entrusted his architect, Emmanuel Héré, with a double challenge. Not only did Héré have the task of creating a backdrop for a statue of Louis XV, King of France (and Stanislas's son-in-law), he also had to bring together the two towns as one.

Works began on 18 March 1752. The new square comprised a new Town Hall, to the south, bordered to the east and west by four pavilions of the same height. Opposite, Héré built lower, single-storey buildings to accommodate the cannons on the ramparts.

A paved avenue leads towards the Arc de Triomphe, today known as Arc Héré in homage to the architect, and then on to Place de la Carrière. Formerly the Place de la Renaissance, a popular stage for jousts, its façades were reworked entirely to achieve architectural unity. At the end, mirroring the Town Hall, is the GovernmentPalace, home to the French authority in Lorraine which is flanked by a royal garden. The whole arrangement is ordered according to a perfect axis of symmetry.

The third square in the ensemble is Place d'Alliance. This is a more intimate space, surrounded by a ring of trees housing at their centre a fountain celebrating the alliance between France and Austria.

The three squares have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1983.