NileGuide Expert Says:
One of the world’s biggest and best museums, in a beautiful palace. All this, and the Mona Lisa, too
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NileGuide Expert tip:
Try visiting early on a Sunday morning to avoid the crowds – except the first Sunday of the month when entry is free and the museum is extra-busy
The Louvre is the top of the list of the top ten best museums in the world, but even so, why are more than 8 million of us a year so fascinated by the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci's painting of a mysterious smiling women, that we have to visit the Louvre to see it? There's no doubt that she is the main draw, although in the eight departments of this rich museum you'll also find Egyptian antiquities, such as the Great Sphinx of Tanis; Assyrian Winged Bulls in the eastern antiquities department; Greek, Roman and Etruscan treasures, including the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace; paintings and sculpture by the greatest Italian, French and Spanish masters; prints and drawings; Charlemagne's sword in the Richelieu wing and a new Islamic art gallery. It's all displayed in the 200-year-old former royal palace of Louis IV, a building which was extended by Napoleon I, who added the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and completed by Napoleon III. Don't try to see it all – you'll get artistic indigestion and very sore feet.