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Louvre Museum, FRA
Louvre Museum – Paris, France
Among the world's largest and most historic art museums is the Louvre in Paris. It is located on the axis of the Champs-Elysees, and forms the center of the Axe Historique with other key monuments like the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.
The site of the Louvre Museum was originally a royal palace in the heart of Paris between the Seine River and Rue de Rivoli. During the French Revolution, parts of the royal palace were opened to the public as a museum (Nov. 8, 1793 was the date of first opening).
The building's history dates back to the Castle of the Louvre, created by Philippe II in 1190 CE. It was designed as a fortress to help defend Paris against the Vikings. By the 14th century, Charles V transformed the castle into a minor palace. Francois I and Henri II were instrumental in ripping down the existing structure and laying down the current day structure beginning in 1546.
Throughout the following centuries the site would experience several different expansions by a handful of monarchs and architects. The latest edition was the controversial glass pyramid (which most people now recognize the Louvre by) designed by I.M. Pei in 1985.
The exterior Glass Pyramid only gives a hint of what lies beneath. Within the sprawling underground/ground level complex is one of the largest collections of art in the world. The famous Mona Lisa is here, along with countless other priceless paintings and sculptures.
There are many different exhibit rooms and it could take several days to fully explore all of them. Among the exhibits are not just paintings and sculptures, but a whole host of engravings, drawings, books, archaeological findings, furniture, historical exhibits, and architectural exhibits.
The newest and biggest wing is the Grand Louvre, which is immediately to the north of the main entrance. If you plan to visit the Louvre, be weary of extremely long lines throughout the entire day. You may want to plan days ahead for your visit here, as it is an extremely popular attraction for both tourists and local residents of Paris.