Essential Architecture-  Architecture in the Da Vinci Code

The Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre)

  See also La Pyramide Inversée


original-Pierre Lescot and J. A. du Cerceau
second wing- Visconti and Hector Lefuel
pyramid- I. M. Pei


36, Quai du Louvre, 75001 Paris, France.


1546, 1876, 1989


original- Loire Chateau French Renaissance
current- Second Empire Baroque Revival




Palace, Gallery

getting there

get off at metro stations: Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre or Louvre Rivoli. 
Relevance to the Da Vinci Code:

In the Louvre, a monk of Opus Dei named Silas apprehends Jacques Saunière, the museum’s curator, and demands to know where the Holy Grail is. After Saunière tells him, Silas shoots him and leaves him to die. However, Saunière has lied to Silas about the Grail’s location. Realizing that he has only a few minutes to live and that he must pass on his important secret, Saunière paints a pentacle on his stomach with his own blood, draws a circle with his blood, and drags himself into the center of the circle, re-creating the position of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. He also leaves a code, a line of numbers, and two lines of text on the ground in invisible ink. 

A police detective, Jerome Collet, calls Robert Langdon, the story’s protagonist and a professor of symbology, and asks him to come to the Louvre to try to interpret the scene. Langdon does not yet realize that he himself is suspected of the murder. 

Sophie Neveu, an agent of the department of cryptology and Saunière’s granddaughter, arrives at the crime scene and tells Langdon that he must call the embassy. When Langdon calls the number Sophie gave him, he reaches her answering service. The message warns Langdon that he is in danger and should meet Sophie in the bathroom at the Louvre.

In the bathroom, Sophie shows Langdon that Fache is noting his movements with a tracking device. She throws the device out the window onto a passing truck, tricking the police into thinking that Langdon has escaped from the Louvre.

Sophie also tells Langdon that the last line in the secret message, “P.S. Find Robert Langdon,” was her grandfather’s way of alerting her: P.S. are the initials of her grandfather’s nickname for her, Princesse Sophie. Langdon thinks that P.S. might stand for Priory of Sion, an ancient brotherhood devoted to the preservation of the pagan goddess worship tradition, and to the maintenance of the secret that Saunière died protecting.

Langdon decodes the second and third lines in Saunière’s message: “Leonardo Da Vinci! The Mona Lisa!” Sophie returns to the paintings to look for another clue. The police have returned to the Louvre as well, and they arrest Langdon. Sophie finds a key behind the Madonna of the Rocks. By using the painting as a hostage, she manages to disarm the police officer and get herself and Langdon out of the building. 

Denon Wing, the Louvre. The Italian painting collection begins at the western end of the Denon Wing. Some rooms here are slowly being remodeled; the Mona Lisa is usually in Salle 3, but through 2005 she is in Salle 13. Seek out the paintings by the original Renaissance man, painter-engineer-inventor-anatomist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). His enigmatic, androgynous St-John the Baptist hangs in Salle 5, along with more overtly religious works, such as the 1483 Virgin of the Rocks, with the harmonious pyramidal arrangement of its figures. 

Continue down the corridor, past masterworks by Raphael and Giuseppe Arcimboldo; you'll soon find yourself in the midst of a crowd, approaching the Mona Lisa (properly, La Gioconda, known as La Joconde in French). With all the guards and barriers, it feels as if you're visiting a holy relic, and in some ways you are. This small painting was Leonardo's favorite. It has belonged to innumerable French rulers since its acquisition by François I, including Napoléon, who kept it on his bedroom wall. The wife of one Francesco del Giocondo, a Florentine millionaire, was 24 when she sat for this painting in 1503. (Some historians believe the portrait was actually painted after her death, and Langdon has an altogether different theory about the origins of the image.) Either way, she has become immortal through Leonardo's ingenious sfumato technique, which combines glowing detail with soft, depth-filled brushwork. 





The fountain.

Aerial view of Napoleon Courtyard and base of inverted pyramid (in lower right).

Grand Gallery and parquet floor.

Interior view of inverted pyramid.

Thanks to 

I.M. Pei's Louvre Pyramid: one of the entrances to the galleries lies below the glass pyramid.

The Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre), in Paris, France, is one of the largest and most famous museums in the world. The building, a former royal palace, lies in the centre of Paris, between the Seine river and the Rue de Rivoli. Its central courtyard, now occupied by the Louvre Pyramid, lies in the axis of the Champs-Élysées, and thus forms the nucleus from which the Axe historique springs. Part of the royal Palace of the Louvre was first opened to the public as a museum on November 8, 1793, during the French Revolution.

The Building

Model of the first royal "Castle of the Louvre".

Model of the first royal "Castle of the Louvre".

Map of the Louvre.

The first royal "Castle of the Louvre" on this site was founded by Philip Augustus in 1190, as a fortress to defend Paris on its west against Viking attacks. In the 14th century, Charles V turned it into a palace of the arts, but Francois I and Henri II tore it down to build a real palace; the foundations of the original fortress tower are now under the Salle des Cariatides (Room of the Caryatids).

The existing part of the Château du Louvre was begun in 1546. The architect Pierre Lescot introduced to Paris the new design vocabulary of the Renaissance, which had been developed in the châteaux of the Loire. His new wing for the old castle defined its status, as the first among the royal palaces. J. A. du Cerceau also worked on the Louvre.

During his reign (1589-1610), King Henri IV added the Grande Galerie. More than a quarter of a mile long and one hundred feet wide, this huge addition was built along the bank of the River Seine and at the time was the longest edifice of its kind in the world. Henri IV, a promoter of the arts, invited hundreds of artists and craftsmen to live and work on the building's lower floors. This tradition continued for another two hundred years until Napoleon III ended it.

Louis XIII (1610-1643) completed the Denon Wing, which had been started by Catherine Medici in 1560. Today it has been renovated, as a part of the Grand Louvre Renovation Programme.

The Richelieu Wing was also built by Louis XIII. It was part of the Ministry of Economy of France, which took up most of the north wing of the palace. The Ministry was moved and the wing was renovated and turned into magnificient galleries which were inaugurated in 1993, the 200th anniversary of the Louvre Museum.

Commissioned by King Louis XIV, architect Claude Perrault's eastern wing (1665-1680), crowned by an uncompromising Italian balustrade along its distinctly non-French flat roof, was a ground-breaking departure in French architecture. His severe design was chosen over a design provided by the great Bernini, who came to Paris for the purpose. Perrault had translated the Roman architect Vitruvius into French. Now Perrault's rhythmical paired columns form a shadowed colonnade with a central pedimented triumphal arch entrance raised on a high, rather defensive basement, in a restrained classicizing baroque manner that has provided models for grand edifices in Europe and America for centuries. The Metropolitan Museum in New York, for one example, reflects Perrault's Louvre design.

Napoleon I built the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (Triumph Arch) in 1805 to commemorate his victories and the Jardin du Carrousel. In those times this garden was the entrance to the Palais des Tuileries.

The Louvre was still being added to by Napoleon III. The new wing of 1852-1857, by architects Visconti and Hector Lefuel, represents the Second Empire's version of Neo-baroque, full of detail and laden with sculpture. Work continued until 1876.

In 1989, the Ieoh Ming Pei-designed glass pyramid was inaugurated. It was the first renovation of the Grand Louvre Project. The Carre Gallery, where the Mona Lisa is exhibited, has also been renovated.

The museum

The Louvre holds the rich artistic heritage of the French people from the early Capetian Kings through the Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte and to the present day.

Long managed by the French state under the Réunion des Musées Nationaux the Louvre has recently acquired powers of self-management as an "Etablissement Public Autonome" in order to better manage its growth. Since September 14, 2005, the Louvre museum has gradually forbidden the taking of photos of its artworks.[1]

Among the thousands of priceless paintings is Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world; it is housed in the Salle des Etats in a climate-controlled environment behind protective glass. Works of artists like Fragonard, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Poussin, and David can also be seen. Among the well-known sculptures in the collection are the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo.

The collection of Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934), given to the Louvre in 1935, fills an exhibition room. It contains more than 40,000 engravings, nearly 3,000 drawings and 500 illustrated books.

Besides art, the Louvre has many other types of exhibits, including archeology, history, and architecture. It has a large furniture collection, whose most spectacular item used to be the Bureau du Roi of the 18th century, now returned to the Palace of Versailles.

The most recent significant modification of the Louvre was the "Grand Louvre" project, under president François Mitterrand. This opened the north wing of the building, which had hitherto housed government offices, and covered over several small internal courtyards. Most spectacular of all, it added a glass pyramid designed by the architect I. M. Pei at the center of the palace. The much expanded and re-organized Louvre reopened in 1989.

The Louvre is widely mentioned in novels and on television. Examples include a setting for the book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, among others.

Le Louvre-Lens
Since a large part of the works in the Louvre are in storage, it was decided that an extension to the Louvre was to be created to the north of Paris. The project should be completed by 2009; the building will be capable of receiving between 500 and 600 major works. This new building should receive about 500,000 visitors per year. There were six city candidates for this project: Amiens, Arras, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Calais, Lens, and Valenciennes. On November 29, 2004, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin chose Lens to be the site of the new Louvre building. Le Louvre-Lens was the name chosen for the museum.

The new building, under the administration of the Conseil régional du Nord-Pas-de-Calais will have semi-permanent exhibition space covering at least 5000m². There will also be space set aside for temporary national and international exhibitions. The building will be a group of glass and aluminum buildings in the middle of a large garden. The estimated cost for this building is 117 million euro, or 158.7 million US Dollars (as of January 2005). It was confirmed on September 26, 2005 with the Japanese office of architecture that SANAA, under the auspices of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, will be designing the building.