With its spectacular Neo-Renaissance frontage presiding over the Place de Grève in the city center, the Hotel de Ville is among Paris' most impressive architectural works. Reconstructed in 1873, the prestigious building kept much of its original style and its exteriors remain a celebrated example of 16th-century French Renaissance architecture, inspired by the Châteaux of the Loire Valley. Designed by architects Théodore Ballu and Édouard Deperthes, the arresting façade features a central clock tower and 136 statues representing historical figures from Paris and other French cities. The interior boasts the grandest makeover, though, with the ceremonial rooms -- including a long Salle des Fêtes (ballroom) - lavishly decorated and featuring wall paintings by a number of key 19th-century artists.
Today the stately building is the city hall, housing the offices of the Mayor and the Parisian city council and maintaining the building's rich political history. While marveling at the magnificent façade (particularly atmospheric at night when its floodlit with multi-colored lights) is a popular pastime among tourists, guided tours of the interiors are also available, and the impressive exhibition hall hosts regular exhibitions of French art and history. During the winter months, a huge outdoor ice rink is erected in front of the Hotel de Ville, offering free ice-skating and a number of ice hockey and figure skating spectaculars over the holiday season.