To protect the capital from the Anglo-Norman threat, the king decided to reinforce its defenses with a fortress, which came to be known as the Louvre.
Construction of fortress brought him more power and politics.
For almost seven hundred years the buildings constituted one of the principal residences, royal home of the kings and emperors of France.
It was the actual seat of powerful administrators and the centre of political power in France from 1682.
Origin as Fortress
Originally construction of fortress started in 1190 , the area known as Louvrea.
Originally moated quadrilateral (78 X 72 meters). Moat is a deep, wide ditch surrounding a castle.
Round defensive towers were built at each corner of quadrilateral fortress to allow defensive fire in several directions.
Narrow gates were there in eastern and southern facing walls.
At centre, The Grosse Tour (30 meters high), tower was demolished in 1527 during the reign of François I.
construction of an Earth rampart (1356–58), which was continued and developed under Charles V.
In 1364, Raymond du Temple, architect to Charles V, began transforming the old fortress into a splendid royal residence.
Alterations in building
Its foundations of halls are viewable in the basement level as the only glimpse of Medieval period.
The Grosse Tour or Keep ( 30 meters high) tower was demolished in 1527 during the reign of François I.
Ambitious royal plans to link the two buildings culminated in the creation of the Grande Galerie.
The palace stretches from the Square Court westward towards the Tuileries Gardens.
In the 17th century, major additions were made to the building complex by Louis XIII and Louis XIV.
Cardinal de Richelieu, the chief minister of Louis XIII, acquired great works of art for the king.
In the 19th century two major wings, their galleries and pavilions extending west, were completed, and Napoleon III was responsible for the exhibition that opened them.
Opening as a Museum
The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801.
The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.
Wings of Louvre
The Louvre comprises three wings— Richelieu, Sully, and Denon
The Richelieu Wing
Paintings from the Middle Ages up to the 19th century from across Europe are on the second floor of the Richelieu wing, including many works from master painters such as Rubens and Rembrand.
The first floor of the Richelieu wing houses a collection of decorative arts, with objects such as clocks, furniture, china and tapestries.
The Sully Wing
It is the oldest part of the Louvre. The second wing holds a collection of French paintings, drawings and prints from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
The Denon Wing
It contains collection of masterpieces of Leonardo Da Vinci, like La Gioconda (Mona Lisa), lovely Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, beautiful Botticelli frescoes.
There are several more other fine Italian and Spanish paintings. Greek, Etruscan, Roman Antiquities, Northern European Sculpture, Italian, Spanish, Africa, Asia, Oceania Americas.