On an icy cold Autumn day I decided it was time to brave the Sunday crowds and take my first look at the Louvre.
The Museum really starts at bottom of the Champs-Elysses - that famous avenue running down from the Arc de Triomphe. Here at the Place de la Concorde the walker enters into the Jardin des Tuileries that makes it way up to the front door ( or at least the Glass Pyramids ... ) of the great Museum.
The Granite Obelisk - a gift from Egypt in 1831
The Tuileries Garden was created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564 and for the next 300 years the gardens played an important roles if the lives of the French nobility and aristocratic families. After the French Revolution the gardens eventually became a public park.
At the end of the Gardens you come to the Arch de Triomphe du Carrousel - built in 1807 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories of the previous year - and beyond which is the forecourt of the Louvre.
The Museum is one of the world's largest museums and a central landmark of Paris. It houses over 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century, some of which are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres, and with more than 8 million visitors each year the Museum can boast to be the world's most visited.
Air - Aristide Mailol - 1932
The Museum is housed in the Palais du Louvre, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II.
The Louvre Palace was altered frequently throughout the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, Charles V converted the building into a residence and in 1546, Francis I renovated the site in French Renaissance style. Francis acquired what would become the nucleus of the Louvre's holdings, and his acquisitions included the famous Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
The building has been extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture.
On 10 August 1792, Louis XVI was imprisoned and the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces, and the royal collection in the Louvre became national property.
The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the Musée Napoléon. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and since then over time holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts.
The Glass Pyramid and its underground lobby were completed in 1989. And it’s from here we will descend tomorrow …