Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Muhlenberg women’s basketball team toured one of the most famous buildings in the world before moving on during their four-country tour of Europe.

Day 3 – by Erin Laney
Louvre pyramid It was a beautiful morning as we headed to the Louvre for a tour of the largest museum in the world. Upon arrival, we channeled any kind of art history expertise that we may have (which for most of us was none). We were greeted by two tour guides (Patricia and Beatrice) and began our adventure in the 21-mile long labyrinth of hallways and stairwells.

We began our tour with an explanation of how the Louvre came to be what it is today. It began as a single fortress but was later destroyed and the foundation was used for construction of the Louvre by King Henry II and Queen Catherine of Medici. Side note: the existence of this fortress was not known until 25 years ago, when construction of the new entrance to the Louvre (glass pyramid from the DaVinci Code) began. This has since then become a new exhibit under the main part of the museum and was a delight to see.

Back to the history lesson, Queen Catherine was not satisfied with the palace that was built for her and the King; therefore, she had another wing built across the way from the original building. Yet, this became too long of a walk in the rain and snow, so a hallway was built from her wing to the King’s wing (the longer side of the Louvre). However, when Napoleon I gained reign over France, he felt that the palace was not symmetrical enough for a royal institution. So, he built a mirror hallway on the opposite side of Queen Catherine’s hallway. And this is how the Louvre came to be the massive building that it is today.

Mona Lisa After the ancient Greek sculptures we continued the tour with paintings by Leonardo DaVinci, including the Mona Lisa, and Coronation of Napoleon by Jaques Louis David. We learned that there were two copies of Napoleon created, one in the Palace of Versailles, and the other at the Louvre, but both are by David. The only difference is that one of Napoleon’s sisters is depicted in a pink gown in the work at Versailles, but not at the Louvre. This is because during the painting process, David and this particular sister developed a romantic relationship, and she was pregnant during the painting of the second work. In the first work, she is in white.

After our trip to the Louvre, we boarded the bus one last time in Paris and proceeded to the Netherlands to our hotel in Valkenburg. We are staying at the Grande Hotel Vocken, a small family run hotel that feels very “European.” We all had a wonderful dinner in the hotel dining room, and then explored some of the town before heading to bed to rest up for our trip to Cologne, Germany, tomorrow morning. More about that in the next installment of our blog.