Bastille – Originally built as a medieval fortress, the Bastille eventually came to be used as a state prison. Political prisoners were often held there, as were citizens detained by the authorities for trial. Some prisoners were held on the direct order of the king, from which there was no appeal. So, its fall in 1789 signaled the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille became a symbol of the end of the ancient régime. July 14, often called la fête nationale in France, became an official holiday in 1880.