Beyond the Mona Lisa
The Louvre Museum in Paris, often simply referred to as the Louvre, is one of the most iconic and visited museums in the world. Home to thousands of artworks and historical treasures, the Louvre has a rich and fascinating history. While many people are familiar with its famous art pieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, there are several lesser-known facts about this magnificent institution. In this article, we will delve into the top 10 unknown facts about the Louvre.
1. The Louvre's Humble Beginnings
The Louvre's origins can be traced back to the late 12th century when it was initially constructed as a fortress under the order of King Philip II. It served as a royal residence, evolving over the centuries into the grand museum we know today.
2. The Original Foundation Wall
Hidden beneath the bustling museum lies a piece of its medieval past—the original foundation wall. This ancient remnant is a testament to the Louvre's transformation from a fortress to a museum. It reminds visitors of the building's rich history and its significance in the evolution of French culture.
3. The Pei Pyramid
While the Louvre's classical architecture is world-famous, it also boasts a stunning modern addition: the glass pyramid entrance designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei. Inaugurated in 1989, the pyramid is both an architectural marvel and a symbol of the Louvre's openness to the world.
4. The Secret Underground
Beneath the Louvre's surface lies a labyrinthine network of tunnels and chambers. These underground spaces house administrative offices, storage areas and even a shopping mall. It's a hidden world that contrasts with the museum's grandeur above ground.
5. A Treasure Trove of Artifacts
The Louvre's collection includes over 380,000 objects, but only a fraction of them are on display at any given time. It would take years to see every piece in the collection, making the Louvre a paradise for art enthusiasts.
6. Napoleon's Contribution
Napoleon Bonaparte played a significant role in the history of the Louvre. He expanded the museum's collection by looting art from across Europe during his conquests. Many of these artworks can still be seen in the museum today.
7. The Louvre's Time Capsule
In 2014, the Louvre celebrated its 800th anniversary by creating a time capsule. It was sealed with instructions to remain unopened for 1,000 years, making it a fascinating artifact for future generations to discover.
8. The Mona Lisa's Kidnapping
The Mona Lisa, one of the world's most famous paintings, briefly left the Louvre in 1911 when it was stolen by an Italian handyman named Vincenzo Peruggia. It was recovered in 1913 and returned to its rightful place, now behind bulletproof glass.
9. The Louvre at War
During World War II, the Louvre's artworks were evacuated to various locations across France to protect them from potential destruction. The museum itself was used for various wartime purposes, including housing and medical facilities.
10. A Night at the Museum
The Louvre offers a unique experience called "Night at the Museum," where visitors can spend a night in the museum's glass pyramid. This program allows guests to explore the museum after hours and enjoy special tours and activities.
Visiting the Louvre
If you would like to visit this iconic museum yourself, then take a look at these steps to help you plan your visit.
1. Check the Museum’s Website
Start by visiting the official Louvre Museum website. Here, you can find up-to-date information about opening hours, ticket prices, exhibitions and any special events or temporary closures.
2. Choose the Right Time to Visit
The Louvre can get extremely crowded, so it's a good idea to plan your visit during non-peak times to avoid long lines. Weekdays, especially Tuesdays and Wednesdays, are generally less crowded than weekends.
3. Purchase Tickets
You can buy tickets online in advance through the Louvre's official website or from authorized ticket vendors. This is highly recommended to skip the ticket lines at the museum. There are various ticket options available, including single entry, combination tickets and discounts for students and seniors.
4. Plan Your Itinerary
The Louvre is massive, and it's impossible to see everything in one visit. Decide which sections or artworks you want to prioritize.
7. Guided Tours
If you want a more in-depth experience, consider booking a guided tour. There are both group tours and private tours available, which can provide valuable insights into the museum's history and its most famous artworks.
The Louvre Museum is not only a treasure trove of art and history but also a place filled with hidden stories and surprising facts. From its medieval foundation wall to its modern glass pyramids, the Louvre continues to captivate and inspire visitors from around the world. As you explore its galleries and corridors, remember that each piece of the Louvre's history contributes to its unique charm and significance in the world of art and culture.