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The biggest museum in the world!

About the Louvre

louvre entry

The Louvre was originally built as a Castle fortress by King Phillippe Augustus II in 1200. At that time, it was outside the city wall of Paris.

wall of louvre This is part of the wall, which was re-discovered when the underground gallery was dug out. You can walk a fair way around it.

castle underground

More recent excavations discovered the original walls of Phillippe Augustus' castle. Again you can walk around the tower walls, they are very thick.

exterior of louvre

King François 1er rebuilt the Louvre as a palace during the 16th century. This was when it became the residence for the French monarchs. However, Louis XIV built the Palace of Versailles in the late 1600s, and the Louvre then became a museum to display the royal treasures and ancient sculptures.

During the French Revolution, the Louvre was confirmed as the national museum. Napoleon restored the Louvre after the French Revolution. At this time, it housed a museum. He organised the construction of the Arc de Triomphe du Carousel to celebrate his victories.

arce de triomphe du carousel

During and after Napoleon's time, the collections in the Louvre expanded as did French influence throughout the world. The "savants" (learned scientists) brought back treasures from far corners of the earth.

During World War II, most of the treasures and paintings that the Louvre houses were relocated for safety to various châteaux around France. At the end of the war, they were brought back. It was then that curators found that they really had too much for one museum, and so they looked to opening other museums to display specific collections, such as the Musée d'Orsay which houses art works of the 19th century, and the Musée de Cluny which is the medieval museum.

In the late 20th century, the Louvre lost its claim to be the biggest museum in the world. Consequently, new galleries were excavated underground and new displays were added. These are covered by the modern pyramids, designed by the Chinese architect Ioh Ming Pei. The entry to the museum is through the largest of these.

entry to louvre

The upside down pyramid inside (made famous of course by Dan Brown in the "Da Vinci Code") is a favourite meeting place.

upsidedown pyramids

Below ground there are also shops, restaurants, and cafés.


Some of the courtyards are roofed, so that larger exhibits may be displayed without weather damage.

Greek artefacts


This is part of a frieze from the Pathenon in Athens. Many of the items in the Greek collection date from the time of François 1er. The Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace (illustrated opposite)form part of this collection.

The Middle East


These figures once guarded an ancient temple in Sumer. The stele of Hamurabi's Laws (opposite) also form part of this collection.



The Louvre houses an incredible collection of Egyptian artefacts. Napoleon conquered Egypt and sent "savants" (learned scientists) out there to study the ancient civilisation. It was a Frenchman, Jean Claude Champollion who cracked the code and translated the Rosetta Stone's hieroglyphics, which opened up modern understanding of this unique civilisation.

Crown jewels of France

crown jewels

A more modern collection, showing the wonderful crowns and jewels of the French royal family.


Here are some of the treasures you may see

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