Charleville-Mézières and the other place des Vosges
The square was raised in 1605 by architect Clément Métezeau, 25 years-old, for Charles de Gonzague, duke of Nevers and Mantua: the current square is 126 metres long and 90 metres large, about 11 000 square metres!
Clément Métezeau also raised the palais du Luxembourg and the place des Vosges in Paris, the city hall in La Rochelle, or the grotto in Gerbéviller castle...
Duke Charles de Gonzague’s father, Louis, was an Italian prince who inherited county of Rethel (Charleville was part of this county) when he married Henriette de Clèves in 1565.
The city was named after Louis son’s name, Charles, who inherited the duchy in the beginning of the 17th century. Charles wanted to create a city straight as a die, with a quadrilateral square in the middle.
So first, they raised arches gallery, the four brick and stone detached houses. Then, Métezeau raised the city itself, from 1610.
Oh, by the way: do you know that in the middle of the square, we could find a fountain, later replaced by a statue of Gonzague? Nowadays the fountain is back to its place. But the Gonzague weren't forgotten: in honour of those princes of Mantua, they twined Charleville with this Italian city, in 1959...