An obligatory stop on any visit to Paris, the magnificent Louvre Museum welcomes almost 9 million visitors a year to its extensive art collections. But you’d be surprised to know that the building is a piece of history in itself.
Fortress, Palace, Museum…housed all in one building
Originally a medieval fortress on the right bank of the Seine – in the city’s 1st arrondissement – the Louvre protected the French capital during the reign of King Philippe Auguste (1190-1202). It wasn’t until the second half of the 14th century that King Charles V made it his home, and the Louvre Palace was born.
Following the fall of the French monarchy, the building’s purpose changed once again to become home to thousands of pieces of the nation’s art collection, back in 1793. And so, the museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings.
Extensive Collections That Will Take Your Breath Away
The Louvre museum is home to items spanning a period of nearly 5,000 years, from ancient cultures (Oriental, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman) as well as Western and Islamic civilizations. Europe’s largest museum immerses its visitors in 460,000 works from around the world, including some major emblems of World Heritage such as the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa or the Eugène Delacroix painting, “La liberté guidant le peuple” ("Liberty Leading the People”).
Apart from these stunning works of art, you cannot leave the Louvre without admiring these beauties too!
• The Winged Victory of Samothrace
This ancient sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory) is considered as “the greatest masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture” by H.W.Janson. It stands tall at the center of the Daru staircase in the Denon wing of the Louvre museum.
• The Coronation of Napoleon
This painting depicts the coronation of France’s most famous Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The painting includes Napoleon’s mother, who in reality, did not attend the coronation because she disapproved of it.
• The Raft of Medusa
This enormous painting by Géricault depicts the grisly events of 1816, when 147 French travelers were shipwrecked, and in order to survive, resorted to brutality and cannibalism. Obsessed with this tragic event, Géricault interviewed survivors and even visited morgues to study the colour of dead skin!
• The Wedding Feast at Cana
With its brilliant colours and merry atmosphere, it’s hard to ignore this celebratory painting by Italian artist Veronese, even though it’s placed right opposite the Mona Lisa! It took 15 months for Veronese to complete this 70 m2 painting.
With 210,000 m2 including 60,600 m2 of galleries, the Louvre museum hosts a wide variety of artworks: paintings, sculptures, sketches, ceramics, and archaeological artefacts amongst others. In fact, there’s so much to see that it would take at least 3 days to experience all that the Louvre has to offer.
How to make the most of your visit?
Whether alone, or in a group, there’s more than one way to explore the museum's collections; multimedia guides for adults and children ensure a more interactive experience. Listen to informative commentary on an audio guide, or you can even download an application on your smartphone. For groups, let one of the specialist Louvre guides take you through the halls and galleries.
How to get to the Louvre Museum?
By metro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7) and Pyramides (line 14)
By bus: bus n° 21,24,27,39,48,68,69,72,81,95 Paris l'Open Tour: bus stop opposite the Pyramid
Velib stops near the museum:
No. 1015: 2 Place André Malraux
No. 1023: 165 Rue Saint-Honoré
No. 1014: 5 Rue de l’Echelle
No. 1013: 186 Rue Saint-Honoré
By car: underground car park accessible from Avenue du Général Lemonier every day from 7.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m.
By Batobus: EscaleLouvre, quai François Mitterrand