In the very heart of France, the center of Paris, there is one of the largest and probably the most famous museum in the world – the Louvre.
This museum has the most famous landmark in the French capital. Tourists from all over the world strive to get here by all means. After all, this is not just a beautiful castle where kings once lived or a magnificent architectural monument. Still, one of the most famous museums in Paris attracts all romantics and all connoisseurs of art.
The most amazing facts about the world-famous museum in its long-troubled history, further in the review.
1. In the beginning, it was just a fortress
The foundation of the Louvre was laid by the first king of France, Philip II, at the end of the 12th century. This monarch is known for being the first to introduce the title “King of France.” In addition, he transferred power to the heir without crowning it during his lifetime. Philip II was one of the most successful rulers of medieval Europe. He began building a defensive outpost near the western border of Paris, along the banks of the River Seine.
This bastion creates to prevent invasions from the north. Around it was a traditional moat, inside a massive, perfectly fortified tower, as high as a modern nine-story building. Later, already in the 14th century, the city spread far beyond this fortress. Then, on the outskirts of Paris, a new series of defensive structures built, and the fort itself no longer use for such purposes. Today, visitors to the Louvre can view the remains of part of the medieval stonework of the fortress in the 13th century Salle Basse.
2. The fortress of Philip ll destroyed to give way to the royal residence
The original design of the building first changes by Charles V in the 14th century. He had very ambitious plans for the Louvre. The Hundred Years War intervened in them, and they, not destiny to come true.
The rulers succeeded each other on the French throne, preferring to build palaces in other places. The Louvre did not use until the early 16th century. King Francis, I ordered it to be demolished in 1546 to make a new luxurious Renaissance complex in its place.
Francis was a worthy ruler of the Renaissance: an amateur poet and a writer. He helped standardize the French language. It was also the first European monarch in history to establish diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire. Francis became famous as a famous patron and inspirer of the arts. The king had a close relationship with Leonardo da Vinci. The ruler of France convinced the renowned artist and scientist to move to this country. The work done under Francis at the Louvre marked the beginning of a century of expansion.
3. The buildings of the Louvre were once dilapidated, abandoned, and rotted
After constructing the Palace of Versailles complete, the French court moved further from Paris and the Louvre. The building remained unfinished and eventually fell into disrepair. The structures that remained open temporarily became the home of several cultural groups. There were painters, sculptors, and writers there. Construction reactivates only a century later.
The Bourbons sponsored the upkeep of the Louvre with true royal generosity. It flourished until the fall of the monarchy and the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789.
The king overthrows and imprisoned his family in the Tuileries. The newly created National Assembly decided to transfer the Louvre to the government to develop a national museum. The Louvre first opened to the public on August 10, 1793.
4. The celebrated Mona Lisa has not always exhibited at the Louvre
Some works by Leonardo da Vinci include in the collection of Francis I, including the famous La Gioconda. This is one of the most beloved paintings in the world. According to legend, Francis was even present at the bedside of da Vinci when he died. After the artist died in 1519, the king bought this painting from his assistant. However, instead of decorating the Louver walls, the image spent centuries traveling through royal palaces, spending time in Versailles and Fontainebleau
It was only after the downfall of the sovereignty and the creation of the Louvre Museum that the Mona Lisa found a more permanent place. And so it remained, with a few rare exceptions. For example, when Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, he hung a picture on his bedroom wall. The canvas takes to a safe, secret location during the Franco-Prussian War and World War II. And in 1911, the painting was stolen right from the museum’s walls by an Italian criminal. He claimed that his motive was the repatriation of the image to da Vinci’s homeland.
For two years, visitors to the Louvre greet with free space on the wall where the Mona Lisa once stood. After its return, the painting did not leave the museum for another half a century. Then the American first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, persuaded French officials to allow the great artist’s painting to visit museums in New York and Washington.
5. Napoleon Bonaparte temporarily renamed the museum in his honor
When Napoleon came to power, he dedicated the Louvre to his namesake. Soon, the Napoleon Museum was overflowing with art war spoils. Bonaparte’s great army swept across the continent like a whirlwind. Among the cultural artifacts that made it to Paris were hundreds of paintings and statues, including a set of antique bronze horses from the façade of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The latter became part of a triumphal arch outside the Louvre.
Another horse statue stood at the top of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. Napoleon ordered that the figure, known as the Quadriga, be packed and sent to France for a demonstration at the Louvre. Instead, it was kept intact until the fall of Napoleon in 1814. After that, more than 5,000 works of art return to their rightful owners. The most incredible museum in Paris has regained its name, which still bears it today.
6. The Louvre became a collection center for all the art stolen by the Nazis during World War II
More than a century later, as another great and invincible army swept across Europe, the curators began hastily to prepare to evacuate tens of thousands of works of art from the Louvre. The Mona Lisa take out first, and then all the other valuable works that could transport. A caravan of nearly four dozen trucks headed for the French province.
There, priceless artifacts and works of art safely house in several private castles. After the Germans occupied Paris, the Nazis ordered the opening of the Louvre. It was a useless gesture: empty walls and ghostly corridors were now home only to those sculptures that were too difficult to move. The ones that remained cover with sackcloth.
The Louvre is empty as a museum with no art to display. The invaders decided to confiscate part of it and turned it into an information center. They cataloged, packaged, and dispatched artwork and expensive personal items seized from wealthy French (primarily Jewish) families to Germany.
The room occupied six large halls in the Louvre. Despite its full scale, it was still not the most significant art theft operation in Paris during World War II. Under the leadership of Hermann Goering, thousands of confiscated masterpieces process at the nearby Jeu de Paume Museum. Many of them were intended for the personal collections of the Nazi high command. Works that were considered morally degenerate (including works by Picasso and Salvador Dali) were sold to various collectors or burned at a public fire at Jeu de Paume in 1942.
Thanks to one fearless guardian who served as a double agent at the time, many of the items that passed through Jeu de Paume were eventually returned. The Louvre is even now, more than seven decades later, criticized for its role in the most extraordinary cultural robbery in history and its reluctance to return controversial works of art.