The Musée du Louvre
Anyone who has a passion for history and culture, dreams of
visiting the Louvre in the heart of Paris. The Musée du Louvre is also
known by the names Grand Louvre or the Louvre Museum. It is one of the
most popular museums in the world. It is located in the Louvre Palace (Palais
du Louvre), which was originally a fortress built in the late 12th
century under Philip II on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st
During the French Revolution the Louvre was transformed into a
public museum. On August 10, 1792, the Louvre became a national property
after the imprisonment of Louis XVI.
The Louvre interior
The collection of the Louvre Museum was first established in the 16th
century as the private collection of King Francis I. One of the works of
art he purchased was the now famous Mona Lisa painting.
The collection grew steadily thanks to donations and purchases by the
kings. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the Louvre became a
national art museum and the private royal collection opened to the
The museum has a collection of over one million works of art, of
which about 35 000 are on display, spread out over three wings of the
former palace. The museum has a diverse collection ranging from the
Antiquity up to the mid 19th century.
Some of the most famous works of art in the museum are the Venus of
Milo, the Nike of Samothrake, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and of
course Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
The Sully wing is the oldest part of the Louvre. The second floor
holds a collection of French paintings, drawings and prints. One of the
highlights is the erotic Turkish Bath, painted in the late 18th century
by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
The first and ground floors of the Sully wing display works from the
enormous collection of antiquities. In the 30 rooms with Egyptian
antiquities you find artefacts and sculptures from Ancient Egypt such as
the famous Seated Scribe and a colossal statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II.
On the ground floor is the statue of Aphrodite, better known as the
'Venus of Milo', one of the highlights of the Louvre's Greek collection.
For something completely different, you can go to the Lower Ground Floor
of the Sully wing where you can see some remnants of the medieval castle
of the Louvre.
Paintings from the Middle Ages up to the 19th century from across
Europe are on the second floor of the Richelieu wing, including many
works from master painters such as Rubens and Rembrandt.
Some of the most notable works are the Lacemaker from Jan Vermeer and
the Virgin of Chancellor Rolin, a 15th century work by the Flemish
painter Jan van Eyck. The first floor of the Richelieu wing houses a
collection of decorative arts, with objects such as clocks, furniture,
china and tapestries.
On the same floor are the sumptuously decorated Napoleon III
Apartments. They give you an idea of what the Louvre interior looked
like when it was still in use as a royal palace.The ground and lower
ground floor are home to the Louvre's extensive collection of
sculptures. They are arranged around two glass covered courtyards: Cour
Puget and Cour Marly. The latter houses the Horses of Marly, large
marble sculptures created in the 18th century by Guillaume Coustou.
Nearby is the Tomb of Philippe Pot, supported by eight Pleurants
Louvre Museum in Paris, France
The ground floor also houses a collection of antiquities from the
Near East. The main attraction here is the Code of Hammurabi, a large
basalt stele from the 18th century BC, inscribed with the Babylonian law
The Denon Wing is the most crowded of the three wings of the Louvre
Museum; the Mona Lisa, a portrait of a woman by Leonardo da Vinci on the
first floor is the biggest crowd puller. There are other masterpieces
however, including the Wedding Feast at Cana from Veronese and the
Consecration of Emperor Napoleon I by Jacques Louis David.
Another star attraction of the museum is the Winged Victory of
Samothrace, a Greek marble statue displayed at a prominent spot in the
atrium connecting the Denon wing with the Sully wing.
The ground floor of the Denon wing houses the museum's large
collection of Roman and Etruscan antiquities as well as a collection of
sculptures from the Renaissance to the 19th century. Here you find
Antonio Canova's marble statue of Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss.
Even more famous is Michelangelo's Dying Slave. On the same floor are
eight rooms with artifacts from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Medieval sculptures from Europe are displayed on the lower ground floor
of the Denon wing.
History of the Louvre Palace
The Louvre was created in several phases. Originally built as a 12th
century fortress by King Philip II, it was significantly expanded in the
14th century during the reign of King Charles V.
Its current palatial appearance goes back to the late 15th century,
when the original fortress was demolished and the wing along the Seine
river was built. The palace was extended during the 16th century by
architect Pierre Lescot, who expanded the palace into a complex with two
courtyards. A decade later Catharina de Medici added the Tuileries
Palace to the west of the Louvre. Construction work on the Louvre was
halted for some time when king Louis XIV decided to move to the
Versailles Palace.In the 19th century, during the Second Empire, the
Louvre was expanded again with the addition of the Richelieu wing. The
wings were extended even further westward during the Third Empire.
The Louvre now had four symmetric wings surrounding a large
courtyard. This would not last long, as the Communards burned the
Tuileries Palace to the ground in 1871, opening up the west side of the
The most recent addition to the Louvre was the construction of the
Louvre Pyramid, which functions as the museum's main entrance.
The pyramid was built in 1989 by the renowned American architect I.M.
Pei. The glass pyramid allows the sunlight to enter the underground
The modern addition originally received mixed reviews, as it
contrasts sharply with the classical design of the surrounding
buildings, but today it is generally accepted as a clever solution which
has given the museum a spacious central entrance without the need to
touch the historic patrimony.