Highlights of France | The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Palace and the Pyramid

Highlights of France | The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum (Musee du Louvre) is the world’s largest museum and most visited art gallery in the world, displaying some 35,000 artworks from the antiquities to the mid-19th century and attracting nearly 10 million visitors every year. It is also dedicated to art history and education. Its prominent displays include the Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called Nike of Samothrace, a marble Hellenistic sculpture of Nike created in the 2nd century BC, and the Venus de Milo, the goddess of love.

Louvre Museum, Paris
Louvre Museum, Paris
Winged Victory of Samothrace
Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre Museum

History of the Louvre Museum

The structure that houses the Louvre Museum along the Seine River dates back to the medieval ages, beginning its life as a defensive fortress in 1190 during the reign of King Philippe Auguste and transformed into a royal residence by Charles V around 1365. The art collector Francois I razed the old structure in 1546, losing the dungeon and keep to make way for a Renaissance-style palace and royal residence called the Palais du Louvre. During Francois I’s time, only a small part of the present-day Louvre was completed, corresponding to the southwestern part of the Cour Carrée. Succeeding rulers added major sections in the 17th century. The rulers through their ministers (for example, Cardinal de Richelieu, chief minister of Louis XIII) acquired artworks that also enlarged the royal art collection.

In 1682, Louis XIV moved his court to the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre ceased to become a royal residence. The founding of the Louvre Museum had its roots in the French Revolution. The French Revolution reached its climax in 1789, driven by the people’s discontent over France’s absolute monarchy and feudal regime. It was the most violent revolutions in the West, and led to the expulsion of its last king, Louis XVI, and paved the way for the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. Palaces were nationalised, the material wealth declared as belonging to the people. The revolutionary government opened the Louvre as a public museum on the first anniversary of Louis XVI’s removal.

The Louvre Museum underwent continuous expansions until the 20th century. At present, it is a vast complex of buildings enclosing two courtyards and covering 73,000 square metres.

Visit the Louvre Museum

You can visit the Louvre Museum on a self-guided tour or a guided tour offered by the museum in English or French. Louvre tickets can be purchased online, and provides additional same-day access to the temporary exhibition and collections and free admission to the Musée Eugène-Delacroix within 48 hours.

The Musée Eugène-Delacroix houses the collections of 18th century painter Eugène Delacroix and has been attached to the Louvre since 2004. The Louvre also provides free admission from 6 pm on the first Saturday of each month and on Bastille Day, July 14. The Tuileries garden, the oldest public park in Paris, is adjacent to the museum and is free to visit.

The Louvre Palace and the Pyramid
The Louvre Palace and the Pyramid
High-angle skyline showing the famous Jardin des Tuileries park of Paris, with the tower of Eiffel in the far horizon.
High-angle skyline showing the famous Jardin des Tuileries park of Paris, with the tower of Eiffel in the far horizon.

The famous glass pyramid marks the main entrance of the Louvre, built in the 1980s and opened in 1989. The ground floor houses the Winged Victory of Samothrace and other magnificent sculptures in the Egyptian gallery. Don’t miss the French paintings and Italian artwork on the first floor, as well as the beautifully ornate Apollo Gallery.

Articles about the Louvre Museum and France published by Odyssey Traveller.

The following list of articles published by Odyssey Traveller for mature aged and senior travellers to maximise their knowledge and enjoyment of France when visiting:

External articles to assist you on your visit to the Louvre Museum and France.

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