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Located in the centre of the city within the Palais de Justice complex on the Île de la Cite, the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) is a small Gothic chapel constructed in the Rayonnant style. Built by King Louis IX from 1238-1244, the chapel housed holy relics from the Passion believed to be Jesus' Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross. These items were purchased from the Byzantine emperor Baldwin II in 1239 for a huge sum of 135,000 Livres (the church cost 40,000 livres to build) due to the King's desire to elevate France as the leader of Western Christianity. The Sainte-Chapelle provides visitors with a spectacular visual experience since the entire upper tier of the chapel is surrounded by enormous stained glass windows.
Founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon, King Saint-Louis' Chaplain, la Sorbonne is famous around the world. At its humble beginning, 16 students of Theology studied there. Now thousands of students apply here every year to gain expertise in varied fields of study. The chapel is the oldest part of the university, which was re-established by Napoléon in 1806 after the French Revolution. Towards the end of 19th century, additions of the Grand Amphithéâtre, Palais Académique and Bibliothèque were added to the structure. There is no entry fee at the gates, however, there are paid guided tours interested groups.
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.
Completed in 1989, Louvre Pyramid marks the entrance to the world-famous Louvre Museum. The stunning architectural monument was dreamed up by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei who is also famous for designing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the east building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Miho Museum in Japan. The pyramid reached a height of 21.6 meters (71 feet) and is flanked by other, smaller pyramids. Built completely out of glass panes held together by metallic poles, the pyramid has become one of the most recognizable and iconic structures not only in Paris, but also globally. A gateway to one of the biggest art museums, the Louvre Pyramid is thronged by tourists.
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.
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.
Parc de la Villette is spread over three kilometers (one-and-a-half miles), is first and foremost a park where both children and parents can play and relax. With its wooded glens, a canal winding through the lawns, staircases climbing up the hillsides to lovely views, and flat lots for roller blading, this place is very popular on sunny Sundays. Children of all ages are invited to unleash their imaginations here: dragon gardens, astounding acrobatics, gentle dunes, and rolling fog set the stage. Linger for awhile in the Bamboo Garden to hear the wind blowing through these enormous grasses and imagine you are surrounded by jungle!
The Panthéon is a magnificent building that was built between 1764 and 1790, commissioned by King Louis XV and completed on the heels of the French Revolution. Not only is the building renowned for its Neoclassical architecture, but the Panthéon is also the resting place of famous individuals such as Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Marie Curie. The architecture is inspired by the Roman Pantheon, with the dome closely resembling that of the St. Paul's Cathedral in London. This is a must-visit for all visitors of Paris - not only for its grand history, but also the sheer beauty of the Panthéon.
Originally known as Place Louis-XV, this square was constructed between 1755 and 1775 based on the design of Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Renamed Place de la Révolution in 1792, a guillotine was installed and 2800 executions took place including that of King Louis XVI. Louis-Philippe christened it Place de la Concorde in 1830. The Louqsor obelisk, a gift from the Viceroy of Egypt to King Charles X of France, has been standing in the center of the square since 1840. The 19th-Century also saw the addition of eight statues representing France's largest cities and the two fountains. The square is home to one of Paris' most prestigious hotels, the Hôtel Crillon.
Le Palais de Chaillot is beautifully towered over by the monumental Tour Eiffel. It is located on the hill of Chaillot and was constructed by French architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu and Léon Azéma for the Great Exhibition of 1937. This Neo-Classical structure comprises of two independent arched wings, each measuring 195 meters (639 feet) in length, as well as four pavilions. It is adorned with sculptures and bas-reliefs from the 1930s, as well as gold inscriptions by the celebrated poet and philosopher, Paul Valéry. This building houses the Musée National de la Marine and the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine on maritime history and local architecture respectively. Visitors can explore the captivating collections and attend a concert or play at the National Theater of Chaillot. Overlooking the façade lies the splendid Jardins du Trocadéro.
French Architect Hector Guimard encapsulates the short lived Art Nouveau style in his distinctive building, Castel Beranger. Completed in 1898, the structure's daring asymmetrical design still stands out today. This is of special interest to students of architecture. What Gaudi brought to Barcelona, Guimard brought to Paris in this must see landmark. If you can't get inside the building for a special viewing of the interior, the engaging exterior is worth a visit too.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel punctuates the splendid landscape of one of Paris' iconic squares. Within stumbling distance of the Musée du Louvre and the ornamental gardens on Place du Carrousel, this triumphal arch is a must visit. Built in 1806, it is an ode to the glories of Napoleon I's army and is inspired by the Arch of Constantine in Rome. Two arches flank a taller central arch, and the perimeter of the 19-meter (63-foot) monument is surrounded by eight Corinthian columns. Statues of soldiers cap the columns and bas-reliefs representing battles are carved on the pediment. The quadriga on the top is reminiscent to the Horses of Saint Mark at St Mark's Basilica.