A very small part of the outside of the Louvre showing
the Seine crossed by the Pont Royal. |
The histroy of the Louvre
Built as a defensive tower
19 m in diameter and 30 m tall, around 1200 by King Philippe-Auguste. The
above-ground part was totally destroyed by Francois I.
he decided to move to the Louvre. However rebuilding work on the medieval Louvre didn't start until 1546. He demolished the existing tower and set to work building the Renaissance palace we see today. However excavations under the courtyard in 1977 uncovered
part of the original castle.
Francois also started the painting collection. The first part of the palace
was built by Pierre Lescot, and over the next 200 years grew and stretched
along the banks of the Seine to become what we see today.
Louis XIV commissioned a lot
of the enlargements, but soon left for Versailles, and the palace was
neglected. Louis XIV never felt comfortable in the Louvre after the Fronde
rebellion. He felt that at Versailles he could more easily control and watch
the nobles, and by forcing them to move from Paris they would lose some of
their growing independence from the crown. At Versailles he was the centre of
everything, and everything revolved around him.
Napoleon was the next to add
and renovate. Outside he added the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and Napoleon
III completed the renovations.
The building first became a
museum in 1793 when it housed the royal art collections. Not everything could
be displayed at the same time, and it was not until President Mitterrand ordered renovations and the additions of the glass pyramids that the whole of
the Louvre was turned into a museum. And with 60 000 sq m it is considered the
largest museum in the world.
Above, a close up
showing the walks along the Seine. The Louvre is just huge. It is interesting
to just walk slowly around it and look at the building itself, the interior of
the building is also fascinating and beautiful, and of course it's contents
make it one of the best museums in the world.
Visiting the Louvre
Entrance to the Louvre is
free on the first Sunday of every month and reduced after 3pm on other days.
If you are going to be in Paris for a while, and are planning a few visits, then an Amis du Louvre card is a good buy. It costs 50 euros and entitiles you to free entry to the Louvre, including special exhibitions. You can enter through a different door to the tourists, so avoid queues, you get a discount at the museum book shops and cafes, and reduced entry prices at some other museums. Also if you pay French income tax you can claim about half of the 50 euros back, so keep you receipt. All in all it is a real bargain.
The main entrance to the Louvre nowadays is through Ieoh Ming Pei's glass pyramid in the centre of the Napoleon courtyard. The
pyramid was completed in 1989 and is cleaned by a robot.
The original main
entrance, now located behind the glass pyramid above.
photographs were taken during an unusually cold period in Paris. I was on the
second floor in the Italian paintings long gallery (the one you must go along
to get to the Mona Lisa).
below shows the arches through which buses pass. In fact one of the best bus
rides is to take the 69 from Bastille, come through these arches, cross the
river to pass the Musee d'Orsay, and on the Champs
des Mars and the Eiffel Tower. You can do this for 1 metro/bus ticket!. Nowhere in Paris will you get a better
bargain. It is even more spectacular at night when the Pyramid and Eiffel Tower are lit up.
In the photgraphs below you can see the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. If you look through this you can
see the obelisk in Place de la Concorde, then the Arc de
Triomphe, and through this the Grande Arche at La
Defense. On a clear day it is quite a sight. The arch was put up in 1806 -
8, and is modelled on the Septimus Severus arch in Rome.
It celebrates Napoleon's victories in 1805 (there is
no mention of Trafalgar). It used to form the main entrance to the Palais des
Tuileries which burned down.
Arc de Triomphe du