The Place Stanislas, known colloquially as the place Stan', is a large pedestrianized square in Nancy, Lorraine, France. Since 1983, the architectural ensemble comprising the Place Stanislas and the extension of its axis, the Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance, has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
After the War of the Polish Succession in 1737, the Duchy of Upper Lorraine, of which Nancy was the capital, was given to Stanisław Leszczyński, former King of Poland and father-in-law to King Louis XV of France. An earlier ruler, Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, had undertaken a lot of reconstruction in Lorraine, which had been ravaged by a series of wars. He'd surrounded himself by artists and architects including Germain Boffrand, who trained Emmanuel Héré: hence Stanisław found a pool of talent and experience to draw from on his arrival.
Design and Construction
The square was a major project in urban planning dreamt up by Stanisław Leszczyński as a way to link the medieval old town of Nancy and the new town built under Charles III in the 17th century. The square would also be a place royale to honour his son-in-law, Louis XV. The design linked two handsome buildings that already existed, the Hôtel de Ville, now centred on its grand square, and the Hôtel du Gouvernement. The seat of city government and the seat of ducal government faced one another as complements through a series of rational, symmetrical, yet varied urban spaces unequalled in Europe at the time.
The Place Stanislas is 125 meters long and 106 meters wide. It is paved with light ochre stones, with two lines of darker stones forming a diagonal cross motif. The square is surrounded by an architecturally harmonious ensemble of buildings, most notably:
- 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;
- To the East, the Opéra-Theâtre (formerly the bishop's palace) and the Grand Hôtel (originally the Hôtel de la Reine, actually occupied by the Intendant Alliot);
- To the West, the Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux Arts, originally the Collège de Médecine) and the Pavillon Jacquet;
- On the North side, the buildings were kept lower for defensive purposes (to permit crossfire between the Vaudemont and Haussonville bastions).