The Louvre, in Paris was originally the royal palace for the kings of France. It was built upon an original fortress constructed in the 12th century by Philip II. It served as the royal residence until Louis XIV moved his court to the Palace of Versailles in 1682, leaving the Louvre for the royal art collection. After the French Revolution it became a museum open to the public.
The Louvre has an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet) and houses a collection of over 35,000 pieces, ranging in age from pre-historic to the 19th century. Some of the most famous works of art that we all have come to know, like the Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci and the Venus di milo are housed in the Louvre. It is a veritable feast for art and history lovers.
We only had time to spend a day in the museum, so it was hardly possible for us to get more than just a taste of what this, the largest museum in the world has to offer. From our arrival on the site we were overwhelmed by the size and opulence of the palace. The main entrance to the museum lies under the glass pyramid, made famous in that awful movie the DaVinci code (sorry, but the historic license and inaccuracies in Dan Browne’s books and in the movie itself make it little more than an interesting shoot ’em up mystery adventure). Sorry to disappoint, but there is no crypt containing the remains of Mary Magdalene under the pyramid, only a large foyer that serves as the entrance to the various wings of the museum.
Admission to the Louvre is very inexpensive, even for tourists. It is free to anyone under 18.
One of the first things we found on entry was the famous Venus di milo, grandly displayed by herself in her own chamber. There is a huge collection of greek, egyptian and roman art, to the point where it became overwhelming and we sought refuge in some of the galleries dedicated to paintings.
We wandered through the various halls getting a feeling for what is contained in the palace. The visit to the Mona Lisa was rather disappointing. The painting itself is isolated on a wall behind a sheet of bullet proof glass. The dense throng of people trying to get a glimpse of the enigmatic smile is almost as entertaining to watch as the painting itself.
It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the size of the Louvre and the immensity of the collection. We found that we were developing a taste for sculpture, especially French sculpture, by the time we neared the end of our visit. We finished off our tour with a walk through the chambers occupied by Napoleon III and the collection of the french impressionists.
You can certainly experience the Louvre in a single day, but I believe you might need several days or weeks even to thoroughly explore it and do the collection justice.
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