The Louvre is rich in history, culture and heritage and is a definite must-visit destination for art lovers. With a permanent exhibition of 35,000 pieces of art, spanning 15 acres, one could spend days admiring great works, even including other antiquities from ancient civilizations.
Darcy and I aren’t overly artsy people, and after seeing countless other museums around Europe, we wondered if we should bother visiting the Louvre. It was so very impressive that we were glad we did take the time to wander around and admire the Mona Lisa as well as other amazing works of art. The Louvre is so busy at all times, the best plan is to pick a few pieces that you want to see and go in with a plan. It is also best to go first thing in the morning, but still be prepared for a large crowd of people.
We were interested to find out some interesting facts about the Louvre:
The Museum Was A Fortress
The Louvre was not originally a museum; it started out as a fortress in 1190. In the late 12th century when Philip II (Philip Augustus) was the first person to be the King of France he began construction on a defensive outpost. Its purpose was to prevent invasions from the north. By the 14th century new defences were constructed and the fortress had served its purpose. In the 16th century, it was converted into a royal palace. In 1973, the French Monarchy moved to the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre opened with only 537 paintings on display; many of them had been confiscated from the royal family and French nobility. Remains of the fortress’ medieval masonry are viewable in the Lower Hall.
The Mona Lisa’s Home Hasn’t Always Been The Louvre
The Mona Lisa painting spent centuries being shuttled among a series of royal palaces and has spent time at Fontainebleau and Versailles. The Mona Lisa eventually found a more permanent home in the Louvre after the fall of the monarchy and the Louvre was established as a public museum.
The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous pieces of art in the Louvre, with people crowding around the painting to stand and stare in amazement. We were surprised at how small the painting was; it really is not as big as everyone thinks at measurements of only 21 x 30 inches.
Nazis & Stolen Artwork
The Nazis even used the historic monument as a storeroom for stolen art during World War II. It served as a clearing house to catalogue, package and ship off artwork that was confiscated from deathly French (Jewish) families back to Germany. The museum is still criticized for its role in the theft of the artwork and its unwillingness to return disputed work.
Biggest Museum In The World
If you have ever been to the Louvre, you know just how gigantic the museum is. It is impossible to see everything the museum has on display in one visit. In fact, it would take you at least a few months to properly see every artifact on display. Today, the Louvre welcomes over 15,000 visitors a day.
The glass pyramid was built in 1989. It is 21 metres high, made from glass and metal and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Paris. The main pyramid is one of four; there are also three smaller glass pyramids that surround the courtyard.
What did you think of the Louvre? Any interesting facts you found out about the museum?