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History of the Louvre
From château to museum

A visit to the Louvre and its collections lets visitors discover Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, as well as a large number of ancient civilizations. Yet it also offers another history to explore. The grand palace that houses the museum, which dates back to the late twelfth century, is a true lesson in architecture: from 1200 to 2011, the most innovative architects have in turn built and developed the Louvre. Long the seat of power, this royal residence was also home to French heads of state until 1870 and is one of the major backdrops to the history of Paris and of France.

Residence of the Kings of France

Renaissance of the Louvre

After the Hundred Years’ War the French kings, who had become accustomed to living away from Paris, continued to reside mainly in the Loire Valley and only traveled occasionally to the capital a few times a year. Things changed during the reign of François I (1515–47), after the king’s military defeat at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 and his captivity in Spain. On his return to France, the king wanted to regain control of his capital and decided, in an official declaration of 1528, to make his main residence there. The medieval château was updated and, at the end of his reign, the king decided to have it rebuilt, but the main work was not undertaken until the reign of Henri II (1547–59).

2 images or videos

  • Israel Silvestre The Tuileries seen from the Seine, Musée du Louvre (Inv 33013)

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    Published on: November 5, 2015

  • The Apollo Gallery

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    Published on: November 5, 2015