It is a classical art museum, similar to others such as the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan in New York, but so far this is my favorite, and not just about classical art, but my favorite museum in the world. It is also the most visited art museum in the world with 8 million tourists per year. It opened in 1793 and is the precedent of all major European and American museums.
HOW TO VISIT
The first time I went to the Louvre I decided to visit each room. It took me 6 hours and I ended up just as tired as when I went to Tongariro (a 19 km up and down volcanoes trek in New Zealand). Personally I would not recommend a whole visit, but if you want to do it, you’ll have to spend at least one full day.
- Monday: from 9 am to 6 pm.
- Tuesday: closed.
- Wednesday: 9 am to 9:45 pm.
- Thursday: 9 am to 6 pm.
- Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 pm
- Saturday: 9 am to 6 pm.
- Sunday: 9 am to 6 pm.
Price: 15 €, but you can get for free:
- The first Sunday of each month.
- All children under 18; also for those under 25 years from the European Union.
- Disabled people and their companions.
- Art teachers.
- On July the 14th.
- Other exceptions.
The exterior is itself impressive, as it is located in the former royal palace, virtually idle since Versailles was built in the 17th century. It was constructed over the ruins of the castle of the Louvre, 12th century; those ruins remain on the ground -1. In 1989 the famous glass pyramid in the central square was opened, which is now the main gateway.
Browse all its corridors and rooms means to walk kilometers. Many of the rooms are richly decorated and sometimes you’ll be more impressed by the decoration of the columns or the ceiling paintings than by the art they contain.
WHAT TO SEE
The hyper masterpieces that everyone wants to see:
- Of course, the first is La Gioconda. In Italian Renaissance painting. The Mona Lisa is a small painting that may be the greatest masterpiece in history but if it was placed at your grandmother’s house you would not remember it was there. The truth is that I was very disappointed. There is a tremendous queue to see it; you have to approach the painting like sheep in a pen and take pictures quickly when in the first row, and is also behind a glass. There is in the same room another painting by Leonardo I personally like much more, and in the background is The Wedding at Cana, a giant picture.
- Liberty Leading the People, in French Renaissance painting. I love this painting, the French Renaissance has some superb pictures with less conventional topics, and great size and realism.
- The Venus of Milo. At least it is normal size, but a statue without arms when there are so many other good statue with arms around… Nor I am able to appreciate its magnificence.
- However, the Victory of Samothrace has no arms nor head, but his realism is fantastic, the way the stone was carved to imitate a wet dress on the body of a woman is amazing. Both are from the second century B.C.
- The Egyptian art room, the Egyptian art room … Most tourists who come to this kind of museums want to go straight to Egyptian art without having been informed of its category. Egyptian art here: a lot; if it’s high quality, I do not know what to say … As far as I know, apart from Berlin, almost everything important is in Cairo. The Seated Scribe and the Sarcophagus of Ramses III are considered the best pieces.
- Are there any Michelangelo’ sculptures? Yes, the Slaves, who are in the same room as another delicious sculpture, Antonio Canova’s Cupid and Pshyque.
- And of course the inverted glass pyramid, because is in the The Da Vinci Code film.
And sites that I like though less famous:
- Art of the Middle East. Especially impressed me:
- Babylonian: Hammurabi’s Code. The “eye for an eye …” is the best known of the 282 laws gravened in this monolith, one of the oldest inscriptions preserved.
- Persian: Lions and Archers frieze (now closed).
- Mesopotamia: winged bulls with human heads.
- French Renaissance sculpture. It may not have any world-famous piece, but this is my favorite part, because of the realism of the statues.
- Arcimboldo’s Four Seasons. I think that are not currently in the Louvre.
- The Turkish Bath, the only picture I recommend in the 2nd floor.
Unless you want to see the whole museum, this itinerary covers the major masterpieces. Floor 2 is the least interesting to me.
- -1 Floor: French sculpture, in the north wing.
- Ground 0: above the previous room, sculptures of Cupid and Psyche and the Slaves (Room 4). To the east you get to the Middle East rooms. Then you have to go south to the Greco-Roman art zone where the Venus of Milo and other extraordinary statues are. Then I recommend to go east again, where the Egyptian art is.
- 1st Floor: there are again more Egyptian pieces and westbound, more Greco-Roman art. Subsequently, further west are the paintings of the Renaissance, with all the ones that I have highlighted. Mona Lisa and Wedding at Cana are in Hall 8.
Finally, there are many secondary very rare pieces. Let’s see who can find some original ones. Enjoy the museum.