The first iteration of the Louvre Palace was built in the twelfth century. Originally a fortress, it was renovated many times and served many different purposes, including as the king’s residence before Versailles was built. The Louvre first opened to the public as a museum in 1793 in the midst of the French Revolution and displayed the recently seized royal collection of Louis XVI.
The first major addition to the museum’s collection came from Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt. The museum’s growth was initially limited by the Tuileries Palace, the royal residence of the emperors of nineteenth century France. When it burned down in 1882, the Louvre was able to expand into what is essentially its present form. The famous glass pyramid was completed in 1989 as part of a new entrance to the museum.
Today the Louvre is split into 8 departments: Near Eastern Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Classical Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Paintings, and Prints and Drawings. It is best known for its stunning gallery of paintings, including the Mona Lisa, but all of its collections are excellent. The Egyptian Department includes the Rosetta Stone, which allowed archaeologists to understand hieroglyphics. The Islamic Art Department, which is also the newest department, is currently closed, but scheduled to reopen in 2012 as it moves to a new gallery.
The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world and probably its best, attracting around 8.5 million guests each year. Spend more than a day here if possible.
Location: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Telephone: +33 01 40 20 53 17
Hours: Monday & Wednesday 09:00-21:45; Thursday-Sunday 09:00-18:00
Closed Tuesdays and national days
Admission: 10.00€; 14.00€ for combined admission to exhibition hall & Musee Eugene Delacroix
Free for children under 18, for all on the first Sunday of each month and Bastille Day