The Column - 44 metres high - is comprised of a stone core, encased in the bronze of 1250 cannons captured at the Battle of Austerliz (1805). It was designed by Denon, Gondouin, and Lepere and modeled in the style of Trajan's Column in Rome. It was constructioned during 1806 - 1810, The spiral bronze bas-relief was created by Bergeret.
Originally a statue of Napoleon a Caesar was placed on top. This was replaced by a likeness of Henri IV which was removed during the 100 Day (1815) when Napoleon returned from Elba and attempted to regain power. Afterwards Louis XVIII installed an enormous fleur-de-lys, but Louis-Philippe restored Napoleon in military uniform.
During the Commune in 1871, a group of Communards lead by Gustave Courbet the artist, tore down the column. Rather than pay for its re-erection, as he was ordered, Courbet died (1877) in exile in Switzerland. During 1873 - 1874, the column was reestablished at the center of Place Vendome with a copy of the original statue on top.
The square is surrounded by shops of some of the most famous names in fashion, as well as the Hotel Ritz. An inner staircase leading to the top is no longer open to the public.