Paris' original attempt at urban planning, the Place des Vosges is now its oldest square. The square symmetry of the square, with its ground floor arcade, consists of 39 (some say 36) houses - each made of red brick with stone facings. Its construction was under Henri IV from 1605-1612. The site was originally occupied by the Hotel des Tournelles.
The project was probably designed by Baptiste du Cerceau, and originally named the Place Royale. The king's and queens pavillions were the center south and north gateways respectively. The square acquired its present name in 1799 when the Department of the Vosges (near the southwestern German border) was the first to pay its taxes associated with particular military campaigns of that time.
Several of its houses have their own particular histories, and among these are the Hotel de Chaulnes (number 9), the Academy of Architecture; the Hotel de la Riviere (number 14) whose ceilings by Lebrun are now in the Musee Carnavalet; number 1 bis where Mme de Sevigne was born; number 11 occupied from 1639-1648 by the courtesan Marion Delorme; number 17, former residence of Bossuet; number 21 where Richelieu lived from 1615-1627, and number 6 - now a museum: Maison de Victor Hugo.