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  • You have made it to the largest national museum in France; Musée du Louvre. The Louvre, as

  • it is often called, is not only the largest museum in France, it is also the most visited

  • museum in the whole world. The museum houses several pieces of art which are renown all

  • over the world, the most famous one being Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

  • While today's Louvre serves a huge museum, it has gone through several different phases

  • throughout the history. The known history of the Louvre started as early as year 1190,

  • when king Filip II built a fortress on the site to protect Paris from Viking raiders.

  • The remains of this fortress can actually still be seen in the Louvre crypt. During

  • the 14th century, Charles V converted the fortress into a royal residence and later

  • in 1546, Francis I had the whole site renovated into the French Renaissance style you can

  • see today. Francis I is by many seen as the founder of the modern Louvre, as he not only

  • renovated the site, but also acquired the Louvres center piece; the Mona Lisa. If you

  • take a look next to the main entrance to Pavillon Sully, you will see an inscription on either

  • side. The left one says that in 1541, Francis began the construction of the modern Louvre.

  • Underneath you can read that Catherine dedicis, wife to Francis second son, founded

  • the Tuileries Palace in 1564. The inscription on the right side tells you that Napoleon

  • III united the Louvre with the Tuileries between year 1852 and 1857. The Tuileries Palace was

  • standing behind the large arc, which now forms the entrance to the Louvre, and looked very

  • similar to the Louvre buildings of today. The palace was at this time connected to the

  • Louvre, so the courtyard you are now standing in used to be an enclosed space. The Tuileries

  • Palace was later burned and destroyed during the reign of the Paris Commune in late 19th

  • century. But let's not get ahead of things. When did the Louvre begin to serve as a museum

  • instead of a royal residence? Well, during the reign of Louis XIV, the construction

  • and expansion of the Louvre was slowed down, as Louis moved his court from the Louvre to

  • Versailles in late 17th century. Instead of housing the royal court, the Louvre began

  • to serve more as a museum and as a residence for artists. The museum was however still

  • very much closed to the general public. By the mid 18th century, more and more voices

  • were calling for a public gallery within the Louvre. Louis XV soon agreed on this matter

  • and displayed of some of the royal collection in the Louvre for the public. With this, the

  • idea of a national museum was born. However, none of the many offers, suggesting that the

  • Louvre would be turned into a museum, was agreed upon by the king.

  • After the French Revolution in the end of the 18th century, the newly constituted National

  • Assembly decided that the Louvre should serve as a public museum and display the nation's

  • masterpieces. The museum was opened for the public in 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings,

  • the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. With the opening

  • of the public museum, the modern Louvre as we now know it was born.

  • As noted before, the architectural style of the Louvre is typical French Renaissance.

  • By looking at the outside of the Louvre, you will see that it is covered in magnificent

  • sculptures. Above the first level, you can see row of statues that goes all along the

  • front facade the Louvre. These are statues of noted French scholars and other academics

  • that played a part in the French history. While the Louvre buildings themselves are

  • impressive, there are some other features worth mentioning. One of them is the arch

  • that marks the entrance to the Louvre. This arc, built in early 19th century, is called

  • "Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel". The arc was, just like its famous big brother, built in

  • honor of Napoleon Bonaparte's military victories. While it is only half the size of the Arc

  • du Triomphe, it is still an impressive sight. Another main feature of the Louvre is of course

  • the glass pyramid. The pyramid was designed by the American-Japanese architect Ieoh Ming

  • Pei on order by the French President François Mitterrand. In 1983, Mitterrand arranged an

  • architectural competition for a grand renovation of the Louvre, where one of the main objectives

  • was to create a new entrance into the Louvre. Pei´s winning entry is a smart construction.

  • It creates a new entrance to the Louvre while at the same time not blocking the view to

  • the main buildings due to its glass structure. It did however cause a lot of controversy

  • when it was introduced, as its modern look is very different compared to its surrounding

  • Renaissance buildings. The origin of the name, "Louvre", is somewhat

  • uncertain. Some believe it refers to the structure's status as the largest building in late 12th

  • century Paris, as the French word for "masterpiece" is "chef d'oeuvre". Being the worlds most

  • visited museum, the Louvre receives around 15.000 visitors per day, so expect some crowds.

  • The crowds usually aren't terrifying though, as Musée du Louvre has so many objects and

  • covers such a large area. It is absolutely huge. It covers more than 60,000 square meters

  • and holds more than 380,000 objects, so if you can forget about doing the whole Louvre

  • in one afternoon. Through out the years, the museum has been

  • the location for several major events and to an extent it still is today. For example,

  • more recently the museum played a key part in the famous book "The Da Vinci code". Today,

  • the Louvre and its surroundings has become an icon of Paris and it is loved by almost

  • all who visited it.

You have made it to the largest national museum in France; Musée du Louvre. The Louvre, as

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    ABbla Chung posted on 2013/09/09
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