- History & Culture
Bastille Day celebrates the rebellion that ignited the French Revolution
On July 14, 1789, thousands of Parisians stormed the prison to protest King Louis XVI's abuse of power. It was a defining moment of the revolution that toppled the monarchy.
When angry commoners stormed the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789, they struck a blow against one of the monarchy’s most forbidding symbols.
The infamous prison no longer exists—it was destroyed in a bout of revolutionary fervor a few months later—but its legacy can still be felt in celebrations across France on Bastille Day, or la Fête Nationale (the national holiday), the anniversary of one of the defining moments of the French Revolution.
The imposing, eight-towered Bastille was built in 1357 to protect Paris against English invaders during the Hundred Years’ War. Intended to fortify the city’s eastern gate, the Port Saint-Antoine, the Bastille was surrounded by a moat and equipped with a series of dungeons. Over time, though,