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There’s something about her dark chocolate eyes, smirk-like smile, and absent eyebrows that adds an element of mystery and fuels conspiracy theories. Perhaps that’s why the Mona Lisa, completed by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci in the early 1500s, is the most visited (and parodied) painting in the world.

You can't visit the Louvre and not see La Joconde (as the Mona Lisa is known to the locals). But once you’ve been jostled by throngs of camera-wielding tourists -- and have snapped your own picture of the masterpiece from behind a velvet rope that keeps visitors at bay -- you’ll want to take in these other works of art at the castle-turned-museum.

Pro Tip: Want to see the most common paths through the Louvre? Check out this interactive data from MIT.

The Venus De Milo inside the Louvre.

Venus De Milo

Ground Floor, Sully Wing

Discovered without her arms on the Greek island of Milos in 1820, the beautiful Venus de Milo has been prominently displayed at the Louvre for nearly two centuries. Expertly carved from a cold, hard slab of marble, the statue of the Greek goddess of love and beauty is so realistic that it looks as if she could wrap you in a soft, warm embrace (if only she had arms).

Pro Tip: Look for picture signs throughout the Louvre that point guests to popular pieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

Nike Of Samothrace inside the Louvre.

Winged Victory Of Samothrace (Nike Of Samothrace)

Ground Floor, Denon Wing

When this larger-than-life statue of Nike was completed in Greece in the second century B.C., she was placed on a pedestal designed to look like the prow of a ship. Unearthed on the island of Samothrace in the mid-1880s, the headless Greek goddess is prominently displayed on a similar prow at the top of the Louvre’s grand staircase.

Nike is the Greek goddess of victory, so it’s no wonder Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight fashioned a wing-like swoosh to represent their sports shoes named after her!

Psyche Revived By Cupid's Kiss inside the Louvre.

Psyche Revived By Cupid’s Kiss

Ground Floor, Denon Wing

Mythological Greek lovers Psyche and Cupid are represented in several works of art at the Louvre, from paintings to statues. In Antonio Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Cupid revives his beloved Psyche after a flask from the underworld has caused her to faint.

The Coronation Of Napoleon inside the Louvre.

The Coronation Of Napoleon

First Floor, Denon Wing

This massive oil painting (roughly 30 feet by 20 feet) depicts the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte at Notre Dame de Paris in 1804. Because France had evolved from a monarchy to a republic after the French Revolution, Napoleon crowning himself emperor was seen by many French citizens as a significant step backward.

Pro Tip: The nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon III, lived in a luxurious apartment in the Richelieu Wing of the Louvre. Take a short break from the paintings and statues to admire the elaborate crystal chandeliers and plush velvet furniture of his apartment.

The Wedding Feast At Cana inside the Louvre.

The Wedding Feast At Cana

First Floor, Denon Wing

Surprisingly, The Coronation of Napoleon isn’t the largest work on display at the Louvre. That honor goes to The Wedding Feast at Cana, which illustrates the first miracle of Jesus. Italian artist Paolo Caliari captures the moment in the Gospel of John when Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

Some visitors mistake The Wedding Feast at Cana for da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Da Vinci’s work is actually a fresco painted on a wall at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, not a painting on display at the Louvre.

Liberty Leading The People inside the Louvre.

Liberty Leading The People

First Floor, Denon Wing

With a red, white, and blue triband flag held high over her head, Lady Liberty leads a Les Miserables-era uprising in this oil painting by Eugene Delacroix. Originally purchased from the Salon by the French government in order to remind Louis Philippe I of the French Revolution of 1830 against his predecessor, the piece was returned to the artist after the Paris Uprising of 1832.

The Great Sphinx Of Tanis inside the Louvre.

Great Sphinx Of Tanis

Lower Ground Floor, Sully Wing

If you can’t travel to Giza to see the Great Sphinx guarding the world’s most famous pyramids, then don’t miss this sculpture at the Louvre. Not only is the Great Sphinx of Tanis one of the largest sphinxes outside of Egypt, but its lion-like paws and regal face are well preserved and quite detailed.

One of the Marly Horses inside the Louvre.

The Marly Horses

Lower Ground Floor, Richelieu Wing

Built in the 17th century as an annex to the Palace of Versailles, the Chateau de Marly was sold during the French Revolution and torn down in the 19th century. But two massive horses carved from Carrara marble were considered to be such phenomenal works of art that they were spared. They’ve been on display at the Louvre since 1984.

Michelangelo's Slave Statues inside the Louvre.

Michelangelo’s Slave Statues

Ground Floor, Denon Wing

When I think of Michelangelo’s works, the David in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia and his beautiful paintings inside the Sistine Chapel immediately come to mind. But did you know that statues by Michelangelo originally slated for Pope Julius II’s gravesite are on display at the Louvre? Known as The Rebellious Slave and The Dying Slave, both pieces are on display in the Denon Wing.

The Inverted Pyramid at the Louvre.

The Inverted Pyramid

When visiting the Louvre, it’s impossible to miss the large glass pyramid in the courtyard of the former castle that has served as the museum’s main entrance since the early 1990s. But fans of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code may have a harder time locating the inverted pyramid featured in the book and in the movie starring Tom Hanks. That’s because the fictional location of Mary Magdalene’s grave isn’t inside the massive museum. Rather, the tip of the pyramid-shaped skylight pierces into the earth and connects with a small stone pyramid at the Carrousel du Louvre, an upscale underground shopping mall that connects to the Louvre.

The Death Of The Virgin inside the Louvre.

The Death Of The Virgin

First Floor, Denon Wing

Fans of The Da Vinci Code also won’t want to miss the painting ripped from the wall by Louvre curator Jacques Sauniere at the beginning of the thriller. This oil painting by Italian artist Caravaggio shows a cluster of mourners surrounding Mary, the virgin mother of God. The sobbing woman in the bottom right, just below Mary’s outstretched left arm, is believed to be Mary Magdalene.

The Catholic convent in Rome that commissioned this piece in the early 1600s did not approve of its imagery and rejected the painting.

Outside the Louvre in Paris, France.

Tips For Visiting The Louvre

  • At just under 800,000 square feet, the Louvre is the largest art museum in the world. Download a museum map, install the free Louvre app, and have other practical information at your fingertips before you go.
  • Welcoming more than seven million visitors each year, the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world. Skip the line by purchasing your tickets online in advance of your visit.
  • Although the museum is closed on Tuesdays, it’s open late on Wednesdays and Fridays (until 9:45 p.m.).
  • Remember that in Europe, the “first floor” is the first floor above the ground floor (or second floor to American visitors). Keep this in mind when searching for the best art to see at the Louvre.
  • Consider grabbing a drink or appetizer while resting your legs in the outdoor seating area of Brasserie Le Cafe Marly. Although the brasserie can be a bit pricey, the views of the sun setting over the Louvre are unmatched.

Want to enjoy Paris off the beaten path? Check out these hidden gems, delightful shops, surprising things to do, and lesser-known churches in the city.

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