Parc des Buttes Chaumont in Paris
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th arrondissement of Paris in the North East of the city is a park that is popular with locals and visitors from different parts of Paris itself and beyond. It differs from many other Parisien parks because of the differences in height, making it sometimes challenging to walk because of the steepness in some areas but rewards visitors with spectacular views.
The most famous feature of the park is the Temple de la Sibylle, a miniature version of the famous ancient Roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy. The temple was designed by Gabriel Davioud, the city architect for Paris, who designed picturesque monuments for the Bois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes, Parc Monceau, and other city parks. The temple was finished in 1867.
Paris was known in ancient times as Lutèce, “the white”, because of the presence of gypsum and limestone underneath its soil. The Romans discovered that if you heat gypsum to 120 degrees Celsius, it turns into plaster that can be used for building purposes. Excavating the material started at the site after the French revolution and continued until 1860. By that time the query had become an open air garbage dump where everything from household waste to dead animals were buried and commercial activity ceased.
During the politically authoritarian reign of the Second Empire, under Napoleon III the quarries closed and the emperor decided to turn the by now desolate looking hill into a sumptuous garden. The State acquired the land in 1863 and the first shovel hit the ground in 1864. Three years were needed to carry out the titanic work to create the landscaping to recreate the park. The park was inaugurated on April 1, 1867, at the same time as the Universal Exhibition of Champ-de-Mars.