Arguably one of the most famous and largest museums in the world was born as a result of one of the bloodiest revolutions. Once the residence of French Royalty, it was converted to the world’s largest museum, covering 4.5 million square ft.

Today, it is more famous for its exhibitions than the architecture, the latter of which is actually stunning. The oldest building of the ensemble, “Lescot wing” built in style of Italian mannerism gave shape to the French architectural classicism, crowned with the easternmost “Perrault Colonnade”, a Corinthian order wing with doubled columns, unexpected, flat roof and a procession of baroque cartouches. The palette of styles ranging from modest to opulent still manages to leave an impression of an entirety and harmony.

The complex opens to a number of smaller courtyards and two large, “Cour Napoleon” and “Cour Carree” as well as the series of baroque gardens.

The controversial glass pyramid covering the underground lobby underneath the Court Napoleon, designed by I.M.Pei in the end of the twentieth century adds the sharp contrast to the late renaissance scene of the complex in the best manner of the follies of the 18th century French gardens. In reality, the linear grid of the postmodern structure complements the historic buildings of the complex. In the evenings it radiates the same hue the old facade gets from the decorative lighting. During the daylight, it reflects the blueish tones of the sky, now matching the shade of the roof.

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Love architecture? Purchase this exclusive photo of the Guggenheim by Stephen Je