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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, or just Grand Palais in short, is a huge exhibition hall and museum in central Paris. Located on the Champs-Elysées, the Grand Palais covers 775,000 square feet and is famous for its enormous glass roof, which is the biggest in Europe. The building is easily spotted from a distance because of that shiny roof. The Grand Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exposition. Other structures that were built at the same time were the Petit Palais and Pont Alexandre III .
The building is home to the National Galleries, the Palais de la Découverte (a science museum), and several annual exhibitions and shows, including fashion shows hosted by Chanel. There is also a restaurant and a large police station in the basement. The main gallery’s purpose is displaying contemporary art, while other areas and halls are used for everything between antique car shows to elaborate fashion shows.
HistoryThe second half of the 19th century was characterized by Universal Exhibitions in the leading European capitals. The organizers were usually quite eccentric and progressive of spirit. Their requests always provided challenges to architects and designers. It was also common to take down even the grandest new buildings afterwards. There are two major survivors from that period of time though: the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower. These two buildings changed the skyline of Paris forever.
The first Universal Exhibition, also known as the World Fair, was held in 1851 in London’s Crystal Palace, a modern glass and steel structure that amazed visitors. When Paris first held the Universal Exhibition, in 1855, it wanted to surpass London and built the Palais de l’Industrie, based on the Crystal Palace, but with some extra additions. Paris hosted the massive fair every eleven years or so and in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was built. When the World Fair was headed to the city once again in 1900, several brand new structures were built, among them the Petit Palais, Grand Palais, and Pont Alexandre III. In contrary to the Eiffel Tower, which was initially supposed to be demolished, the Grand Palais was built to last.
Now one of the most recognizable landmarks in Paris, the Grand Palais was designed by three different architects. The project was overseen by the famous architect Charles Girault , who was later given complete freedom to design the Petit Palais. The main space of the Grand Palais consisted of a combination of glass, steel, and iron, and was the last one of the large glass buildings used for gatherings before electricity became in use. This main space was nearly 240 meters long. The exterior of the building is made up of a classical stone façade, Art Nouveau ironwork, and several allegorical sculptures.
The palace was officially opened on May 1, 1900, and immediately became a place for all kinds of shows, entertainment, and events. The main purpose of the building was to hold art exhibitions though, which it still does today. Until the late 1950s, exhibitions mostly featured new technological advances, such as household appliances, cars, and planes. During the World Wars, the Grand Palais was first a military hospital, then a truck depot and exhibition hall for Nazi propaganda, and last as the headquarters of the Parisian resistance.
Large renovation projects have taken place in the 1990s through the 2000s. The whole building was opened to the public again in 2007. Nowadays, the Grand Palais is the world’s largest glass and iron structure on the planet, a title which was taken from London’s Crystal Palace after it was destroyed by a fire. The structure with its magnificent Belle Époque pinnacle is made up of 9,400 tons of steel, 15,000 square meter of glass, and 5,000 square meters of iron and zinc roofing. It is definitely an inspiring building.
Visiting the Grand PalaisThis truly enormous palace houses the Galeries Nationales and the interactive science museum, Palais de la Découverte. Numerous exhibitions and events take place inside every year. Admission to the building is free, although visitors may have to pay to visit exhibitions and the like. The Grand Palais is open every day from 10 AM to 8 PM.
Similar LandmarksThe Grand Palais is one of Paris’ iconic buildings. Located on the Champs-Elysées, it lies on the Historic Axis, a line of historically significant buildings and sites that crosses the heart of the city. Examples of these buildings are The Louvre, Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Garden, and the Place Charles de Gaulle with the Arc de Triomphe. Other majestic buildings in Paris are the Notre-Dame de Paris and the impressive Hôtel de Ville.
Other striking glass buildings in the world are the Botanical Garden of Curitiba in Brazil, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Aldar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, and The Sage in Newcastle, and the Gherkin or St Mary Axe in London, both in England.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jun 19, 2015