Enthrallment of the ancient city of Lutetia
The Roman city of Lutetia was the predecessor of present day Paris. It was probably founded in the mid-third century BC. Lutetia was one of the main settlements of Parisii tribes. In 52 BC the Romans defeated the anti-Roman Gallic coalition here. In 357 AD it was made Roman capital of Gaul. The Romans began extending their settlement and made it a prosperous city. The name Paris appeared for the first time only in the 3rd century AD. Now Paris is most commonly referred to as the "City of Light".
I along with one of my colleagues was in Paris on 03 December 2016 as part of our Schengen tour. We could narrowly escape from snow fall as it was beginning of winter. We heard that the underground Metro is a classic subway system to visit the tourist spots as it has frequent services. Metro of Paris is the second busiest in Europe, after the Moscow Metro. We bought a day ticket, which is called the Ticket Mobilis.
Our first destination was Eiffel Tower, located in Champ de Mars. It is an icon of France and one of the most recognisable structures in the world. It is a wrought iron lattice tower. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower.
During its construction it was the tallest man-made structure in the world. The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels. The top level's upper platform is the highest observation deck accessible to the public in the European Union. We heard that during World War I, a radio transmitter located in the tower jammed German radio communications which seriously stalled their advance on Paris and contributed to the Allied victory.
We enjoyed beauty of the park surrounding this tower. The park remains open round the clock.
The Seine River has flown along the northern side of this tower. It is an important commercial waterway within Paris. It originated in North-eastern France and falls into the English Channel. Few of prestigious monuments like Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Orsay Museum and Conciergerie are on the banks of the Seine. We noticed few fully-glassed boats with a rear terrace in the river. Travelling by these anyone can enjoy Paris sightseeing tours.
We continued walking along the southern bank of the River towards east. On the way we came across The National Assembly. It is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France. The National Assembly's members are known as 'delegate'. Over its columns at front we saw a beautiful sculpture.
We could see the Place de la Concorde on the opposite bank of the river. It is the largest public square in Paris. We crossed River Seine by the Pont de la Concordeis Bridge. The square is located at the eastern end of the Champs-Elysees street. It was the site of many notable public executions during the French Revolution. The center of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics. It was brought from Egypt. This obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple in Egypt. We noticed that it is a yellow column of granite.
The obelisk is flanked on both sides by fountains constructed at the time of its erection on the Place. We saw The Roue de Paris adjacent to this. It is a transportable big Ferris wheel. It was installed for the 2000 millennium celebrations. Riding on it anyone can have a unique 360� view of Paris. The Tuileries Garden is located to the east of it. The Tuileries Palace was a royal and imperial palace and this garden was created surrounding that. It became a public park after the French Revolution. We found many people here enjoying the fresh air and greenery. During 1900 Summer Olympics, this garden hosted the fencing events.
Looking eastwards we could see The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel gate and after that Louvre museum. The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is an arch gate. It was built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon's previous military victories against Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and Great Britain. Its high central arch is flanked by two smaller ones. It has eight columns made of marble and over them statue of eight soldiers are placed.
At its top a sculpture of chariot can be seen. This gate was originally erected as an entrance of the Tuileries palace. The Place du Carrousel is a public square, located at the open end of the courtyard of the Louvre Palace. Since the destruction of the Tuileries palace at 1883, the Louvre courtyard has remained open.
Crossing this arch we got the full view of The Louvre Museum with a glass pyramid at the middle. It is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as the Louvre castle in the late 12th to 13th century. The pyramid stands over the main entrance and we entered through that.
As it was the first Sunday of the month entrance was free. Anyone can take photo inside, but flash photography is forbidden. From the guide book we came to knew that approximately 38,000 objects are exhibited here. The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments. Those are Egyptian Antiquities, Near Eastern Antiquities, Greek and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, Paintings, Prints and Drawings.
Visiting Egyptian antiquities we found that maximum artefacts were from the Nile civilisations which date from 4,000 BC to the 4th century AD. We saw ceramics, glass, metal ware, wood, ivory, carpet, textiles, and miniatures in Islamic art hall.
In Greek, Etruscan, and Roman hall The Winged Victory of Samothrace or the Nike of Samothrace attracted our attention most. It is a marble Hellenistic sculpture of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. It is one of the most eminent sculptures in the world. During the years of World War II, the statue was removed from here for safety with the statues of Venus de Milo and Michelangelo's Slaves.
Finally we were in front of Monalisa, the most famous painting in the world. It is a half-length portrait painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is the most visited and most discussed work of art in the world. It is also one of the most valuable paintings in the world. It holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known insurance valuation in history. We noticed it is displayed in a climate-controlled enclosure behind bulletproof glass. The painting was illuminated by an LED lamp. Like others to me also the smile was a mystery. We saw many other famous Italian renaissance paintings.
After sunset we visited Notre-Dame Cathedral. This medieval Catholic cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. This site was occupied by a pagan temple during Roman time. Though the main construction was completed in 1260, it was modified frequently in the following centuries. The exterior of cathedral was decorated with sculptures of a variety of fabulous and frightening monsters. Entering inside we saw many modern abstract designs were made of glass. Its interior was decorated by various statues including Joan of Arc. The innovative use of the rib vault, flying buttress, colourful rose windows of stained glass and abundance of its sculptural decoration attracted us most.
We came out of the cathedral and enjoyed our dinner in a nearby French restaurant. As it was very cold outside we decided to return to hotel. Thereby our day long visit concluded.
From ancient time Paris had a rich history and culture. Natural beauty, historic monuments, structures, museums and delicious foods obviously can attract tourists' attention. Besides, perfume of France is world famous. I think it requires days together to enjoy Paris fully. Certainly it will be lifelong memories for anybody.
The writer is freelance contributor