The Secret of the Louvre. La Vie en Rose, Part 3

Le Louvre, the famous national art museum of France, has a secret. Located in Paris, on the right bank of the Seine river, it wasn't built to be a museum at all! Instead it was initially built to be a fortress. Philip II Augustus had it constructed early in the 13th century to protect the Seine against Norman and English attacks, and it became a palace for the French kings.

The original structure looked little like the massive, beautiful palace-turned-museum that we see today. Many of the monarchs who resided there added on to the original structure. One built a new wing here, another a mansion over there. Then in 1564, Catherine de Médicis decided to build her own castle in a nearby field. She called it the Tuileries, and it was soon decided that an extravagant palace could be created by joining the Louvre to the Tuileries through a series of buildings. Additions continued to be built until 1682, when Louis XIV decided to move his court to Versailles, and le Louvre is now one of the largest palaces in the world.

In 1793, only four years after the French Revolution, the Louvre opened as an art museum, but Napoleon I and III continued to live in the Tuileries. During an uprising in Paris in 1871 however, the Tuileries was destroyed. Fortunately the Louvre and the buildings leading to the Tuileries were left intact.

The world-renowned Louvre currently covers over more than 48 acres of land. What used to be a palace for the kings has become a delight for tourists and art admirers alike. The long-gone kings, who now only exist in books, have becomes nothing more than fables of the past. The art, however, is admired by young (unless they are forced into the building!) and old alike.

It is interesting to note that most French kings who resided at le Louvre were not well received by the commoners in France. Their tendency to abuse their power eventually led to a revolution, and they became nothing more than a horrible memory from the past. We have to wonder how we will be perceived when we are gone. Will we be remembered as someone who abuses those around us? Will we be renowned for spreading death through our nasty words and actions, and through our selfishness? Or will we be remembered as one bringing life, love and peace to our surroundings?

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom 8:6 NIV)

Rob Chaffart

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