Paris 2013 - The Louvre
Another one of the must visits in Paris is The Louvre. Most people just go there to catch a glimpse of the famous Mona Lisa - but it is so much more then that. It is one of the World's largest museums both physically and in terms of the number of artifacts in its collection - with a floor area of around 60,000 sq. m., bigger then many shopping centres. Around 35,000 artworks are on display at any one time - it will take you weeks to see them all.
The Louvre was originally a fortress, and after numerous extensions it became the palace for French monarchs - famously Louis XIV. In 1682 Louis XIV moved to the Palace of Versailles leaving The Louvre to become a place to house the royal collection. That was the start of The Louvre's evolution into the museum that it is today.
In the 1980s The Louvre went through a controversial renovation by World renown architect I.M. Pei who inserted the now-famous glass pyramid in the middle of the central square. Some people hated it, but obviously a lot more people loved it as the attendance doubled after the completion of the renovation.
The glass pyramid leads to the main underground lobby, through which you can access the various wings of the Museum.
Another design feature which intrigues a lot of people - especially children - is the inverted glass pyramid. Besides being a design centre piece - it also serves its main function of bringing light into the underground spaces. It was even featured in a popular movie - I am sure you know which one !
As we only had a few hours at The Louvre - we had to strategize and plan out what we wanted to see. There are 3 main wings in the Museum - Sully Wing, Richelieu Wing and Denon Wing. The Denon Wing houses Mona Lisa and is understandably the most crowded. On the ground floor is an extensive collection of Roman and Etruscan antiquities. The Richelieu Wing houses paintings from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century across Europe - including works by Rembrant, Rubens and Jan Vermeer. The Sully Wing houses Egyptian and Greek antiquities.
Even tough the museum is huge, it is not difficult to explore the building as the collections are very logically organized. Once the crowd start to thicken, you know that you are getting closer to the main attraction.The magical power of the Mona Lisa is undeniable.
One of the great thing about museums in Europe is that they let you take pictures freely - albeit without flash which is understandable. This generosity of spirit is truly admirable - as in Asia or elsewhere many places with even very insignificant collections would not let people take photos - don't know why - except meanness in spirit.