“You won't be able to take a picture of all of them together.” the old man said to me. I had not noticed him, standing there as I was trying to take a picture of the stone fitted in the middle of the road. “There are five of them, you know?” he completed. “Yes, I know, the other ones are under the parked cars. Why aren't they marked in some way?” I asked. “We petitioned for painting them in white, and limiting parking over them, but the City Hall refused. The reply was it is not a very good souvenir.”. The only reference to the five stones today is a small sign explaining their history.

The building where the old man lives and the park across the street were both built to replace old prisons. The one that was replaced by the park – only thirty years ago – was a women's prison. The apartment blocks on this side of the street stand where the men's prison was. And before being a men's prison, the building was a convent that was raided and abandoned during the French revolution. The old man told me that it had a very beautiful, stain-glass decorated, old chapel inside it, but the authorities at the time of demolition did not want to know about it, and put it down as well.

Up to around a hundred years ago, the men's prison was the place for public executions using the Guillotine. The five stones are the only sign that remains. They lied in front of the main gates of the prison and were used to fix the Guillotine for public executions, as it needed solid foundations. Around sixty men were executed here, the last one before the turn of the twentieth century. Therefore the surname of the place, the five-stones abbey.

The old man's wife turned to me as we walked away together from the place saying, “Maybe abolishing the death penalty was not such a good idea. I see plenty of people today that would deserve to have their heads chopped off. And we could make some money renting our flat for watching the executions.”

Interestingly, the five stones and the gate across the street are aligned with the new park fountain. It is as if even under the current urban plan there is some older, darker plan. Maybe, for those that know how to look at it, the Guillotine still looms around, unforgotten.

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