The Louvre (Musée du Louvre), one of the most famous monuments in France. Located in Paris, it is also the world’s most visited museum. Nearly a thousand year’s old, it’s not surprising that this cultural icon is full of fascinating history and heritage. Curious? Here are seven interesting facts about The Louvre in Paris, France.
7 Interesting Facts about The Louvre in Paris, France
1. The Louvre was originally a fortress
The Louvre was originally built as a fortress in 1190. When you visit, you can tour the remains of the fortress and moat which are housed near the iconic Great Sphynx. In the 16th-century it was turned into a royal palace. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly reconstructed the Louvre into one of the most magnificent museums in the world. It opened in 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings.
2. It would take over 100 days to see all of the artworks
Nowadays, the Louvre Museum has a collection of over 380,000 pieces with some 35,000 works on display to the public. The museum’s galleries are spread over 72,735 square metres (782,910 square feet) – almost 18 acres. This makes the Louvre the world’s largest museum. If you spent just 30 seconds admiring each of the museum’s pieces, it would take you 100 days to see them all.
3. The Louvre is part of the Axe Historique
L’axe Historique de Paris is an 8-kilometre inverted line that runs from the Louvre to the La Défense quartet in the Parisian suburbs. To be exact, it starts at the equestrian statue of Louis XIV in the Cour Napoléon of the Louvre to the south-east and finishes at the Arche de la Défense to the north-west. Along this stretch, you’ll find a plethora of historical monuments, for instance, the Arc de Triomphe, the Obelisk, Tuileries Garden and of course, The Louvre. However, the Louvre Palace Pyramid is not part of the historic axis because there is an offset of about six degrees from it.
4. It is home to precious masterpieces
The Louvre is one of the world’s most important museums. Its collection is one of the richest in the world as it has artworks and artefacts spanning some 11,000 years of human civilization and culture. Some of the masterpieces on display are the sculpture of Venus de Milo, Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Guiding the People and The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault. In addition to these precious masterpieces, you’ll also find the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, which is ‘the most famous painting in the world’. This painting is housed in a bulletproof glass case and has its own security guards.
5. The Louvre is haunted, apparently
With over 800 years of history, it is no surprise that there are plenty of myths and legends surrounding the Musée du Louvre. Some of the scarier tales concern hauntings. Legend has it that the mummy Belphegor roams the halls and haunts the Louvre. A man dressed in red haunts the nearby gardens too.
6. It was once called Museé Napoleon
Under the reign of Napoléon Bonaparte (1804 until 1814), the Louvre became Museé Napoleon, renamed in his honour. Napoléon expanded the museum’s collection by 5,000 pieces. Many of these pieces, however, the army pillaged from other counties. After his demise, most of the 5,000 pieces were returned to their original owners. The Museé Napoleon also reverted back to Musée du Louvre. During his reign, Napoléon fell in love with the Mona Lisa painting. He removed it from the Louvre and hung it in his bedroom in Tuileries Palace. This was adjacent to the Louvre.
7. The Nazis also stole art for the Louvre
Napoléon Bonaparte wasn’t the only one who stole art from his conquered territories to fill the Louvre. During World War II, the Nazi’s used the Louvre as a storeroom for stolen artworks. Before Germany invaded France, officials hid many of the museum’s masterpieces to protect them. In order to fill the Louvre with artwork, the Nazis displayed artworks that they had stolen from around Europe. Pieces included books, paintings and sculptures.