Originally constructed as a fortress by King Phillip II in the 1100s, the Louvre Museum in Paris, France has been exhibiting grand works of art since 1793. Probably the most famous museum in the world (and definitely the most highly trafficked) this massive collection of fine art and antiques is so diverse it is hard to know where to begin when you walk through the doors. At 652,300 square feet and with over 35,000 pieces on display you could easily spend a week lost in all the beauty and grandeur the Louvre holds. A fantastical journey through history, culture, and art it is hard to find a point of comparison as few can even begin to hold themselves up against the majesty that is the Louvre Museum.
[php snippet=1]As you walk the maze of eight uniquely distinct collections, you begin to get the feeling you are stepping from one world into another. The “Near Eastern Antiquities” section features a robust assortment of ancient artifacts; some dating back 10,000 years to the cradle of civilization in the Fertile Crescent. Painted terracotta fertility sculptures and celebratory cups made of silver and gold dot this extraordinary look into the dawn of humanity as we know it. Once you enter the “Egyptian Antiquities” section you will come face to face with actual mummies, tools and games from everyday life, and textiles over 2000 years old. The “Islamic Art” collection, scheduled to reopen in 2010, holds 1300 years of intricate and delicate pieces from carved ivory reliefs to fantastic woven tapestries and rugs. The Louvre also holds an astonishing number of works on paper in their “Prints and Drawings” exhibit. Chalk drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and pastels by Maurice-Quentin Delatour are two of the highlights you will find here. Definitely the most diverse of all the collections, “Decorative Arts” is home to pieces like an 11th century crystal ewer, an elaborately inlaid wardrobe, and an emerald necklace once owned by Empress Marie-Louise second wife of Napoléon Bonaparte.
The Louvre is probably most famous for its paintings. In the “Paintings” collection you will discover works proving this museum to be the definitive example of what it means to be top in your field. Everyone knows the Louvre lays claim to the Mona Lisa; but did you also know it is the home of Rembrandt’s Bathsheba, Albrecht Dürer’s Portrait of the Artist Holding a Thistle, and Regnault’s The Three Graces? Seeing these masterpieces up close is like knowing a little piece of heaven. “Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities” has some of the oldest pieces of art for art’s sake in the museum. Some of the items include fine vases, jewelry, sculpture, and metal work all from 3,000 BC to 600 AD. The “Sculptures” wing hides such treasures as Daniel in the Lion’s Den, The Fountain of Diana, and Michelangelo’s Rebellious Slave and Dying Slave. There is such an abundant cornucopia of unbelievably rare, beautiful, and stunning works to be seen at the Louvre it almost seems fake. And yet here it all is before you to bathe in its glory.
Yes the Louvre is extremely famous, but that does not make its holdings any less spectacular or wonderful. Admission rates run between about $10.00 and $20.00 depending on how long you want to stay and what parts of the museum you want to be able to see. Check their official site for hours and days of operation, but definitely make the Louvre a stopping point your next trip to Paris. When it comes to interesting destinations, it is impossible to over-hype this amazing museum.
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