The architecture of the Louvre Palace bears witness to more than 800 years of history. It has been a medieval fortress, the palace of the kings of France, and a museum for the last two centuries.

The Louvre was built by Philippe Auguste in 1204 and was originally the royal chateau. Later, between 1364 and 1380, it was transformed by Charles V. It was entirely rebuilt from the time of Francois I to the 19th century. Once the palace of French kings and princes, the Louvre today houses one of the richest art collections in the world. Its collection, which ranges from Egyptian art of 5000 BC to nineteenth-century work, is divided into seven departments: Oriental and Islamic Antiquities; Egyptian Antiques; Greek, Roman and Etruscan Antiques; Painting; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; as well as Graphic Arts.

Louvre Museum

In 1981 President Miterrand initiated a redesign project called Le Grand Louvre. The new Glass Pyramid was designed by famous architect Ieoh Ming Pei. This huge renovation increased the Louvre's space by 22, 000 square meters. The Glass Pyramid allows one an incredible view of the Grande Arche de la Defense with the Arc de Triomphe in the middle. The main entrance is accessible by the Grand Pyramid. Under the glass pyramid one can find the shopping gallery and several restaurants and cafeterias. The basement is now occupied by the remains of a fortified wall of a medieval castle built by Philippe August in 1190.

Divided into eight departments, the Louvre collections incorporate works dating from the birth of great antique civilizations up to the first half of the ninetenth century.

This is one of the greatest art collections in the world. The core collection was formed by Francois 1, and added to by Henri II and Catherine de Medici. The Old Master collection was developed by Louis XIV and important Spanish and Dutch works acquired by Louis XVI. Most art lovers come to view the exceptional collection of European paintings which range in date from 1400 to I900. The Grand Gallery which runs along the south of the building, is a magnificently designed. Pierced by large windows, its walls are hung with some of the finest works of the Italian Renaissance. On this level is also the Spanish collection and the large scale nineteenth-century French paintings. On the upper level artists from northem Europe are well represented, along with earlier paintings from the French school.

In 1993 the Museum celebrated the bicentenniel of its opening, and an extension to the Richelieu Wing was opened to celebrate the event. The Aile Richelieu is fully accessible to wheel-chair visitors. Temporary exhibits are displayed below the pyramid in the Hall Napoleon, Aile Richelieu and Aile Sully. To help you find your way, the three wings are color-coded. Each level is also color-coded and divided into ten sections. Each room is also numbered.