Place de la Concorde in 1885. The Palais Bourbon can be seen in the background, beyond the River SeineAt the north end, two magnificent identical stone buildings were constructed. Separated by the rue Royale, these structures remain among the best examples of that period's architecture. Initially they served as government offices, and the eastern one is the French Naval Ministry. Shortly after its construction, the western building was made into the luxurious Hôtel de Crillon (still operating today) where Marie Antoinette soon spent afternoons relaxing and taking piano lessons. The hôtel served as the headquarters of the occupying German army during World War II.
During the French Revolution the statue of King Louis was torn down and the area renamed "Place de la Révolution". In a grim reminder to the nobility of a gruesome past, when the "Place de Grève" was a site where the nobility and members of the bourgeoisie were entertained watching convicted criminals being dismembered alive, the new revolutionary government erected the guillotine there. The first notable to be executed at the Place de la Révolution was King Louis XVI, on January 21, 1793. Other important people guillotined there, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Madame Elisabeth, Madame du Barry, Danton, Lavoisier, and Robespierre. The guillotine was most active during the "Reign of Terror.", in the summer of 1794, when in a single month more than 1,300 people were executed. The Reign of Terror subsided after the Thermidorian Reaction (July 27, 1794).