One of the most iconic museums of the world, the Louvre is often a must-visit site for those visiting Paris . But it is also a gigantic museum where you could spend days, if not weeks, wandering its halls to appreciate art from around the world.
But most travellers only have a day, and more dedicate just an afternoon to the Louvre. And with advance planning it’s possible to see the best things at the Louvre, without getting museum fatigue.
Don’t feel guilty for not attempting to see everything, there’s always more for the next trip to Paris. In the meantime don’t miss these 6 best things to see at the Louvre.
1) The Mona Lisa
This may not be the absolute best thing to see at the Louvre but it is the most famous. Most visitors are surprised to see just how small this painting is from Leonardo da Vinci. It’s often best to see the Mona Lisa first as it tends to have large crowds and as it is small and covered with plexiglass visitors will need to wait patiently to get a first row view of this masterpiece. If you’re a fan of da Vinci, there are many more of his pieces in the Louvre, without all the crowds.
2) Venus de Milo
Considered a Hellenistic masterpiece, this status was found in the Greek island of Milos, where they worshipped Amphitrite, the goodness of the sea. Many historians believe she could also be Aphrodite, the goodness of love, who is usually portrayed half naked. Although the marble status is missing some pieces it is difficult to be certain which goodness she is as her arms have never been recovered.
3) Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix
One of the most iconic paintings in French history, it is often thought of the national painting of France and is an impressive 8 by 10 feet. In this painting Marianne or Lady Liberté, is holding the French flag and symbolizes the French Republic’s fight against King Charles X during the July Revolution in 1830. She is much lighter than those around her, guiding them in the fight with determination.
4) The Coronation of Napoleon
But what is a visit to France, without a bit of Napolean? Although Napolean was pint sized the paintings he commissioned were not. This painting by French artist Jacques-Louis David is an impressive 33 feet by 20 feet and best views several steps back.
It is meant to commemorate his coronary ceremony when he declared himself the emperor and unlike a traditional monarch ceremony where the Pope would crown the King or Queen, Napolean actually crowns himself in the painting showing the separation from the church.
5) Great Sphinx of Tanis
The Louvre is not only home to European antiquities, but also has a significant collection from Egypt. This is why the addition to the I.M. Pei pyramid entrance was appropriate, as the Louvre has over 65,000 pieces from Eqypt with a little over 10% of them on display in the Sully wing. The most impressive is the Great Sphinx of Tanis, which is the famous sculpture of the human head with a lion’s body which was created between 2,600 and 1,900 B.C. One of the largest sphinxes outside Egypt, it was inscribed with the names of several pharaohs and represents the closeness of the king (human head) with the sun god (lion’s body).
6) The Victoire de Samothrace (Winged Victory)
Nike, also known as the goddess of victory, is one of the most impressive sculptures in the Louvre. It is believed to have been created in 190 BC on the Greek island of Samothrace to celebrate a naval victory. Her position in the museum make it one of the most impressive sights in the Louvre as she is located at the top of the stairs heading toward level one, where most visitors go to visit the Mona Lisa. She is positioned to be standing on the bow of the ship, with the wind blowing her thin dress drenched in sea water. Although she is missing her head, no one seems to notice as the details in this sculpture, particularly her wings is outstanding.
Although these six pieces are some of the most memorable and best things to see in the Louvre. There’s no way to see it all the the museum has over 35,000 pieces of artwork on display and over 10 times that in its collection. However, this is a fantastic place to start and to inspire visitors to return.
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Cover photo credits: faungg’s photos