The Louvre & Beyond

The Louvre & Beyond

LE MUSEE DU LOUVRE

The Louvre in central Paris is unrivalled in its grandeur and its immense wealth of treasures from antiquity to modern times. The many thousands of exhibits encompassing treasures from the worlds of history, archaeology and the arts feature fabulous collections of sculpture, porcelain, books, furniture, jewellery, costumes and ancient artefacts, to name but a few. Central to its priceless art collection is, of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”.

To fully appreciate the Louvre experience one should ideally allow for multiple visits, as the sheer size of the complex and the vast extent of its exhibits can be almost overwhelming. It is not possible to do it justice in a few short hours.

I never tire of exploring this magnificent museum, always finding something to fascinate and inspire. I prefer to focus on a particular section and enjoy its splendours at a relaxed pace – easier to absorb detail and information. The grand classical architecture and ornately decorated interiors are high art in themselves and these elements alone are enough to entice me back.

A Brief History of the Louvre Museum

Situated between the river Seine and the Rue de Rivoli, the Louvre is positioned in the axis of The Champs Elysees.  The modern-day Louvre is the result of a long and fascinating history. Built originally as a fortress against the Vikings in 1190, the Louvre has evolved through many incarnations into the splendid showcase we enjoy today.

Under Charles V it was a Palace of the Arts, then torn down and rebuilt as a proper royal residence under Francois I and Henri II. The existing Chateau de Louvre (just part of today’s sprawling complex) emerged in 1546 and was constructed in the Renaissance style.

The magnificent Grande Galerie, which fronts the Seine and extends for almost  a quarter of a mile, was added during the reign of King Henri IV (1589 – 1610).  The building of the Denon Wing was initiated by Catherine Medici in 1560 and completed by Louis XIII (1610-1643).  The Richelieu Wing was also built during this period.  King Louis XIV presided over the development of the eastern wing.

The Louvre first opened to the public as a museum in 1793 (during the French Revolution).  This national treasure has survived Napoleon’s interference and undergone many cycles of renovations that continue to this day.

The modern contribution to this rich history of Louvre architecture is the striking  Crystal Pyramid (1989) designed and built by Ieoh Ming (I.M.) Pei. This very contemporary structure juxtaposed with the classical buildings created much debate and controversy at the time, but today most find it rather beautiful.

Lovely Lifestyles 2016