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Île de la Cité's is one of two natural islands located within the city of Paris. This island is entirely shaped by the Seine River and located in the heart of the city. Many historians believe that the first group of people, a small Gallic tribe, settled on the island in 52 BC. It has been inhabited ever since by the likes of Romans, Merovingians, and contemporary French citizens. Visitors will find some of the city's most recognizable monument on the isle, including Notre-Dame, La Place Dauphine and Sainte Chapelle, to name only a few. These structures on Île de la Cité serve as an excellent representation of the beauty and architecture for which Paris is famous.
Fontaine des Innocents was created by Jean Goujon between 1546 and 1549 to celebrate the entrance of Henri II in Paris. It was first located at the junction of Rue St Denis and Rue aux Fers, leaned back on Saints Innocents church: there were only three sides, decorated with nymphs and naiads. At the end of 18th Century, Parisian cemeteries were emptied and relocated, including the Innocent cemetery. The fountain was relocated in 1788 to Rue des Innocents and Augustin Pajou designed a fourth side. The Innocents fountain was relocated again by a few meters in 1858 to place it in the center of a new square and a pedestal with six basins was added.
Pont Neuf is one of the oldest bridges which stretches across the river Seine. Ironically Pont Neuf, translated into English means 'new bridge'. Standing at the western point of the Île de la Cité, (island of the city), the Pont Neuf bridge connects the left and right banks of the city. The bridge was officially inaugurated in 1607, by King Henry IV. The attraction and specialty of Pont Neuf is that, it was one of the first to have pavements. Parisians love to socialize and hang out here, and hence there is no doubt that the bridge is one of the most visited spots in the city.
The Louvre Museum houses one of the largest collections of artworks and antiquities in the world. The museum is located inside the Louvre Palace, which was built in the 12th Century as a fortress by Philip II. After Louis XIV, he decided to move his court to Versailles, the palace was occupied by a variety of institutions related to the arts. The museum was first opened under the National Assembly in 1793. The establishment is divided into sections, including drawing, painting and sculpture, and houses antiquities from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and several other cultures. Visitors to the museum can explore its many wings and see some of the most famous works like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Liberty Leading the People.
Discretely situated in the 5th Arrondissement, these Roman ruins are easy to miss. They're a great place to come, however, if you're looking for a bit of greenery and a breath of fresh air in a friendly neighborhood setting. The ruins were first unearthed in 1869, and have since been excavated and landscaped. Parts of the Roman amphitheater are clearly visible: a testament to the Romans who founded the city of Lutetia, as Paris was first called. On weekends, expect to find families and loads of children running around. Or bring a book and a sandwich on a sunny weekday, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
If you hadn't heard of it before, The Da Vinci Code would have told you all you need to know about the Pyramide du Louvre. La Pyramide Inversée, however, is an attraction of a different kind; this inverted pyramid situated at the Carrousel du Louvre is an upside-down skylight. Although the mall itself has much to offer, the widespread fame of this inverted pyramid is what draws so many tourists here.
For connoisseurs of architecture in Paris, La Madeleine is a must visit. Pierre Constant d'Ivry began the construction of this monument in 1764, and it was completed by one of his colleagues. It was looted during the French Revolution and Napoléon I later decided to transform it into a temple in the memory of his glorious army. Eventually, this structure was instead dedicated to St. Mary Madeleine. One of Paris' most famous churches, its impressive façade is made up of 52 20-meter (65-foot) Corinthian columns, while inside its nave is magnificently crowned by three cupolas. Sculptor Charles Marochetti's marble statue the Ravissement de Sainte-Madeleine overlooks the high altar, giving it a unique splendor. Classical concerts are occasionally organized at this church.
This vast complex was founded in 1675, at Louis XIV's request to take in French ex-servicemen and handicapped war veterans; these men are the invalides commemorated by the building's name. It was the first French hospital-turned-home to be built entirely for soldiers. The building is adorned with a classical facade, a delightful little garden, a large courtyard and an impressive esplanade. An erstwhile hospital that cared for hundreds of disabled ex-servicemen, the complex also now houses the Eglise du Dôme, Tomb of Napoleon, the Musée de l'Armée, the Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération and the Musée des Plans-Relief.
The entrance to the Grand Palais is a work of art in itself. La Nef du Grand Palais also known as the Nave is a striking feature of this historical structure. Housing a remarkable glass roof, considered to be one of Europe's largest, this marvelous space was designed by Henri Deglane. After a century, restoration work of the nave was undertaken in 2001 to 2005, under the direction of the renowned architect Alain Charles Perrot. Spread across 13,500 square meters (145312.79 square feet), this nave is used to host various exhibitions and entertaining events.
Montmartre is to Paris what Manhattan is to New York! Second in popularity only to the Eiffel Tower, a visit to this romantic city is not complete without a climb up this quaint little hillock. Perched right on top, is the world famous Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, whose grace and beauty awes even the most hardened atheists. The climb may be a bit strenuous however the panoramic views of a city steeped in history, war and romance, are your prize for the effort. Along the way, you can find jugglers, fire eaters, mime artists and the famed accordion players, who are so synonymous with France. Erstwhile Montmartre was home to artists like Monet and Van Gogh who despite their poverty, painted some of their most fascinating works of art, right here. Even now, you will find artists along the cobbled streets with their canvases and paintbrushes, painting up a riot of colors while the world goes by.
Underneath the glaze of the Parisian sky, the Eiffel Tower captures the dazzling spirit of its French capital. A magnificent wrought iron lattice tower that was originally built as an entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, the tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel after his inspiration was fueled by the pyramidal form of Egypt's historic landmarks. This comparison was met with ardent disapproval from several eminent Frenchmen before the tower came to be the celebrated global icon that it is known as today. At a stunning height of 324 meters (1,063 feet), the Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline as the city's tallest, and the country's second-tallest freestanding structure. Its majestic form sports three shades – darkest at the lowest level and colored in a light contrast as the tower ambles up to the top – an illusory mechanism adopted so as to complement its surroundings. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most winning sights in all of France, and even after more than a century, people continue to extol this monumental symbol of architectural beauty.
Famous for housing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Arc de Triomphe is a site of memories, current events, and celebrations. Construction of the Arc de Triomphe began in 1806 and was completed thirty years later. Standing in a direct line between the Louvre and the Grande Arche de la Défense, the monument links the past with the present and offers amazing views of the city from atop the arch. Many of France's famous leaders, dictators, writers, and artists have passed under its arch on the way to their final resting place, including Napoleon and Victor Hugo. A closer look at the arc reveals six evocative reliefs carved into its historic facade, portraying key highlights and events that transpired during the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign.