Paris, Palais du Louvre, The Da Vinci Code & Everything In Between!

History

From being a fortress to a national museum- The majestic Louvre Palace has various stages & layers to its creation. Let us unveil them in this blow by blow account.

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The palace was originally built as a twelfth-century fortress by King Philip II. It gradually expanded in the fourteenth century during the reign of King Charles V.

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Francis I, King of France and great patron of the arts, commissioned the architect Pierre Lescot a courtly residence next to the heart of the Cité in Paris to design the Palais du Louvre.

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French Royal Palace Dining Room and Chandeliers at Louvre Palace


The palatial architecture dates back to the late fifteenth century, when the original fortress was demolished & a wing along the Seine River was built. The palace was then extended by building two courtyards during the sixteenth century by architect Pierre Lescot.

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The Louvre, the Tuileries Palace and their annexes on the Mérian map of 1615


This palace has felt and seen the most powerful rulers & millions of visitors. It was a decade later that Catharina de Medici added the Tuileries Palace to the west of the Louvre.

In the nineteenth century, during the Second Empire, the Louvre was expanded again with the addition of the Richelieu wing. The wings were extended even further westward during the Third Empire. The Louvre now had four symmetric wings surrounding a large courtyard.

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Louvre and Tuileries in 1615


In 1871, the Communards burned the Tuileries Palace to the ground which opened the west side of the palace

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Napoleon’s Apartments at the Louvre in Paris

The landmark of Paris- The Louvre Pyramid!

This iconic pyramid was commissioned by the President of France, François Mitterrand, in 1984 & it was designed by the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei

To us, it does feel like President Francois Mitterrand had an excellent artistic taste! Just look at this gorgeous piece of art (picture below).

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To add to the magnificence of the Louvre Palace came the Louvre Pyramid!

This great masterpiece was officially opened on 30 May 1989 to coincide with the bicentenary of the French Revolution.

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Detail underground structure of Louvre Pyramid

People from all over the world flocked the Louvre Palace & it was becoming difficult to handle the enormous number of visitors. The Louvre Pyramid came as a solution to this issue.

The pyramid and the underground lobby beneath it disperse the visitors entering through the pyramid & descend them into the spacious lobby & then re-ascend into the main Louvre buildings. Several other museums have duplicated this concept, most notably the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

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Let’s ZOOOOOM in, shall we?

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Are you a fan of the Robert Langdon tetralogy?

If you thought Dan Brown was the first author to offer many diffeeent interprestation of the Inverted Pyramid, then you haven’t heard of Raphaël Aurillac. In Raphaël Aurillac’s work Le guide du Paris maçonnique the author declares that the Louvre used to be a Masonic temple.

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According to Robert Langdon’s discoveries, the Inverted Pyramid is the site of a tomb. This deduction is pure fantasy.

When you go for a tour of the Louvre Pyramid, find the Inverted Pyramid at Carrousel du Louvre.

The Mona Lisa- As told by Langdon!

And obviously, the most famous painting in the world of Mona Lisa, could not escape Langdon’s narrative in his crime thriller set in the Louvre Museum.

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The mysteries surrounding this painting are explained in a completely logical way during the investigation: Mona Lisa’s smile, the position of her hands, the landscape… what are these elements hiding? Historians claim that this interpretation is a work of pure fiction & shouldn’t be believed.

Where to find it this incredible painting: Denon wing, 2nd floor, room 6.

Urban legend of 666 panes

Many claim that the glass panes in the Louvre Pyramid number exactly 666. 666 is a number which is often associated with Satan & often referred to “the number of the beast”. This is the number of the demon and the beast in the Apocalypse.

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Was the construction of the Pyramid therefore a bad omen announcing the end of the world?

We can blame the 666 myth to Robert Landgon & his creative head overflowing with thrilling stories, but the reality is not the same.
Fact – The pyramid officially consists of 673 glass panes as per The Louvre museum (603 rhombi and 70 triangles).

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The Louvre Pyramid- A symbol of peaceful co-existence between the ancient and modern!

And now you are Louvre ready.

So whenever you get a chance, do visit it and share your experience with me!

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Take a look at some more marvelous shots of the Louvre!

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Shruti Bhatia

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