The Square Jean XXIII is situated on the southern and eastern sides of the Cathedral Notre Dame, on the river-side of the cathedral as well as behind it.
This area, since the 17th century, had been the site of the Archbishop's Palace and garden.
In 1831, the palace was looted and vandalized by rioters and was later demolished.
In 1844, the Prefect of Paris, Claude-Philibert Barthelot, Comte de Rambuteau, designed and built the present-day Square. It was also during his adminsitration that the Arc de Triomphe was completed.
The Square is named in honor of Pope John XXIII, who was pope from 1958-1963.
In this Square, behind the cathedral, is found the gothic-styled Fountain of the Virgin. It was sculpted by Merlieux, from a design of the architect Vigoureux, in 1845.
There is also a bust of Goldini, created by Eduardo Fortini. Goldini was a dramatic author from Venice who died in Paris in 1793. The bust was placed in the Square in 1907, on the bicentenary of his birth.
The main part of the Square, which is behind the cathedral, is shaded by many lime trees and elms and there are cherry trees from Japan.
Square Jean XXIII offers a magnificent viewing of the flying buttresses that support the walls and roof of Notre Dame.
There are many benches here in the shade and it is a lovely place to enjoy the views of the cathedral, the Seine river and its bridges.
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