The Louvre Palace on the Seine Embankment was a royal residence from the 14th to the 17th century. It is now the most visited art museum in the world. More than 9 million people visit the Louvre every year. It is well ahead of the British Museum and London`s National Gallery. These museums in London are visited by over 6 million people.
The first fortress on this site was built in the 13th century, but at first it housed the royal treasury and archives. The kings preferred to live on the fortified Island of Cite. The first king to settle in the Louvre in the 14th century was Charles V the Wise. His fortress occupied a small area, about a quarter of the Cour Carre. In the 16th century, this fortress was demolished, and under Francis I, the construction of the Cour Carre began, which has survived to this day.
“Cour”, in French means "Yard". For several centuries, some other Cours were added to the Cour Carre: the Cour Napoleon, the Cour Sully, the Cour Richelieu, and the Cour Denon. Next to the Louvre in the 16th century, the Tuileries Palace was built, which was connected by two Cours to the main Louvre. Between the Tuileries and the Louvre was a large courtyard.
Since the end of the 17th century, the kings preferred to live in Versailles. The Louvre lost its status as a royal residence. During the French Revolution, the royal court was forced to return to Paris, but they settled in the Tuileries, under home arrest. Since then, the Tuileries Palace has become the royal residence, and the Louvre has received the status of a Museum since 1793. In 1871, during the uprising of the Paris Commune, the Tuileries Palace was set on fire and completely burned down. The Louvre was also damaged, but it was quickly restored. The symbol of royal power, the Tuileries Palace, was decided not to restore, and after 20 years its ruins were dismantled. Now there is the Tuileries Garden on this site only.
The Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the world in terms of the value and vastness of art collections. In 1981, all the Cours of the Louvre were transferred to house museum exhibits. In the center of the courtyard, a large glass pyramid was built, which became the main entrance to the Louvre Museum.
The systematic formation of the collection began under Francis I. He invited the famous artist of that time Leonardo da Vinci to France. Thanks to him now in the Louvre you can see several masterpieces of this great master of the Renaissance.
In the 19th century, the collection of the Louvre was replenished with ancient masterpieces of Egypt, Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylon) and other countries of the Middle East, where French "collectors of antiquities" were actively working. The most famous masterpieces of the Louvre are the sculptures of Venus de Milo, Nika of Samothrace, the Seated Scribe from Egypt, as well as painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
Of great interest are the palace interiors of the Louvre, when it was a royal palace. In this, the Louvre is similar to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which was also a royal palace for several centuries before becoming a museum.