By Coline Duvall
L a Sorbonne comes from the name Robert de Sorbon, bishop and confessor of King of France, Saint-Louis. Its history was closely linked to the one of Paris University and became its symbol. The university was created in the XIIIth century from the guild of masters and students in the capital city.
Right from the beginning an international aura is linked to that specific university education.
The Sorbon College was created in 1257. It is then one of the many colleges lodging on the mountainsides Holy-Genevieve, the poor students. It very quickly becomes a famous faculty of theology - the SORBONNE - which will take active share with the philosophical debates and policies of the time. Rebuilt by Richelieu and his architect Jacques Lemercier at the XVIIth century, it is closed by the Revolution in 1791 and is transformed into workshops of artists in 1801 again to be assigned to teaching at the beginning of the XIXth century.
At the end of the XIXth century, the Republic decides to rebuild it with the architect Henri-Paul Nénot, and to make New Sorbonne the sanctuary of the spirit, the place of knowledge, the famous center of science.
In May 1968 it became the center of rallying of the dispute and the university is reorganized since in autonomous universities, but it remains the symbol of the French university still and always, the pole symbolic system of youth and the talent. Its name is known in the whole world.
The building includes a vast space with high grooved columns called the peristyle, the Richelieu Living room, the Large Living room, the Room of the Acts, the Room of the Commissions, the Large Amphitheatre, The peristyle gives access to the reception rooms and the platforms of the large amphitheatre by the staircases of the Letters and Sciences. It includes wrought iron slopes and coppers engraved. Around the peristyle one discovers a vast whole of paintings of Flameng, representing the history of the Letters and Chartran, the history of Sciences.
In the center of this living room is the Masses of Faculties: medicine, Sciences, Letters, Right and Pharmacy.
The Large Living Room, or old Room of the Academic Council
It is immense with a 27 meters length gallery on 10 meters broad. In the left angle one discovers the full-length portrait of Cardinal of Richelieu by Philippe de Champaigne.
The Room of the Acts or the conference Room of the Vice-chancellors
Two tables face there: installation of the first stone of the Sorbonne New by Joseph Wencker (1848-1919), and the Reception of the higher Teacher training school by Andre Dewambez (1867-1943).
The Room of the Commissions or old Dining room official
Decorated in 1904 per J. Francis Auburtin, its panels with the luminous colors evoke landscapes of Estérel. On the chimney throne a bronze bust of Paul Landowski.
The Large Amphitheatre was inaugurated on August 5, 1889. It contains 1128 places. It is composed of ten vast platforms distributed on two stages and of six niches. Dominating the estrade, the “Crowned Wood” of Puvis de Chavanne, the most famous fabric of the Sorbonne evokes the alive symbols of the Letters, Sciences and the Arts are assembled around the Sorbonne.
The Room of the Authorities
It is used as hall with the Large Amphitheatre where the personalities meet before taking seat on the estrade and includes statues and paintings. Its pavement is out of marble and was renovated entirely in 1993.
The Louis Liard Room (Philosopher 1846-1917) or the Doctorate Room is decorated with sculpted panels by Legrain. It also includes medallions of Pascal, Bossuet, Descartes, Racine portraits.
The actual premises were inaugurated in 1897 by Felix Faure, then President of the Republic. They occupy nearly 12,000 square meters in the Sorbonne.
This inter-academic library has collections representing 50 km of shelves, 3500 numbers of manuscripts, 534 incunables, 100.000 volumes printed before 1801, 300.000 volumes of the XIXth century, 2.040.000 works of the XXth century, 6000 alive subscriptions, 180.000 theses. The oldest document preserved dates of XIth century.
The Main Courtyard
The first stone was posed on May 1, 1635 by Richelieu. Architect: Jacques Lemercier. Closed down in 1904 the church remains devoted and depends on the University.
It is considered as one of the most important monuments in religious architecture in the XVIIth century before the roman influence and much before the Val de Grâce and the Invalides. Inside the mausoleum is located the marble tomb of Richelieu which was sculpted by Girardon.
According to usage, a red Cardinal hat hangs above the mausoleum.