The Louvre is The Greatest and Largest Museum in the World , and the second most visited in the world. Now, that’s saying something! Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited and saved for posterity over an area of 60,600 square meters (652,300 square feet). It is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, a gorgeous building – originally built as a fortress (now forming both the structural and historic layer, remnants visible in the basement of the museum) in the late 12th century under Philip II (or Philip Augustus), the first person to be officially known as the King of France and one of medieval Europe’s most successful rulers.
The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. Charles V first modified the building’s original design in the 14th century, but the Hundred Years War derailed his more extensive plans. Successive monarchs opted to live elsewhere, and the Louvre fell into disuse until 1527, when Francis I ordered the demolishment of the original structure in favor of a lavish new Renaissance-style compound.
A bit of trivia for ya: Francis I, being an enlightened Renaissance ruler; helped standardize the French language and was the first European monarch in history to establish diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire.
As a noted patron of the arts Francis I cultivated a close relationship with Leonardo da Vinci, and convinced the artist to move to France. A number of da Vinci works would find their way into Francis I’s collection, including La Giaconda (you might know this painting as the Mona Lisa), one of the world’s most famous paintings. The Mona Lisa would not grace the walls of the Louvre for centuries, as both Francis I and his successors kept her for themselves. It was only after the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of the Louvre as a public museum that the Mona Lisa found a more permanent home (with some exceptions where it was moved for security reasons during wars, and when Napoleon decided he needed something pretty to rest his eyes on before going to sleep. And it was also stolen in 1911.)
During the French Revolution, the newly created National Assembly decreed that the Louvre be turned over to the government for the creation of a national museum open to the public. The Louvre first opened its doors on August 10, 1793 – with an exhibit of more than 500 paintings and decorative arts, many of which had been confiscated from the royal family, French nobility, and churches.
In 1983, French President François Mitterrand proposed to renovate the building. Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid to stand over a new entrance in the main court, the Cour Napoléon. The pyramid and its underground lobby were inaugurated on 15 October 1988; the pyramid was completed in 1989. La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid) was completed in 1993.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is a triumphal arch on the compounds of Louvre Palace, located in the Place du Carrousel. It was built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories of the previous year. Now, do not confuse this Arc with the more famous – and twice as large – Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, across from the Champs Élysées.
You are going to need a lot of time to see it all at the Louvre, so after standing in line to see the Mona Lisa, we opted for the Egyptian exhibition. Whether you are an art lover or not, the Louvre is a definite must see in Paris.