The Tuileries Garden or Jardin des Tuileries is the oldest and largest garden in Paris, located between Louvre Museum and the Avenue des Champs Elysées, right on the banks of the river Seine.
The name of the garden comes from the French word ‘tuile’, meaning tile, after the tile factories that stood in the location until the 15th century.
In 1564, the Queen of France, Catherine de Medici, commissioned the construction of a new palace in Paris. As a Medici, she was passionate about music, art, literature, and science, and decided to model the gardens of her new palace after the Medici Garden in her native Florence.
Bernard de Carnesse, a landscape architect from Florence, was commissioned to build the Italian Renaissance garden. It featured many fountains, canals, and a labyrinth. Catherine’s garden was divided into rectangular sections planted with flower beds, lawns, fruits, vegetables, and vineyards. It was the most beautiful garden in Paris at that time, and Catherine used it for various luxurious royal festivities.
In the 17th century, King Louis XIV moved into the Tuileries Palace while he waited for the Palace of Versailles to be finished. In 1664, displeased with the garden’s Italian appearance, he commissioned the landscape architect André Le Nôtre to redesign the entire garden into a French formal garden, based on symmetry and order. The gardens had a central lane, 2 ponds, and 2 lateral terraces. The garden has remained largely unchanged since this time.
With the beginning of the French Revolution and the execution of the king, the Tuileries Garden was made a national garden of the French Republic. The garden was once more refreshed, this time with classical decorations such as columns and Roman porticos.
In the 19th century, the Tuileries Garden served as a place where locals went to relax, socialize, and entertain. Napoleon Bonaparte made the Tuileries Palace his residence and used the garden as a site for special events and military parades. In 1871, the Tuileries Palace burned down during the time of the Paris Commune, but fortunately, much of the garden was not ruined. After that, the garden became a public park. During the 1900 Olympic Games, the Tuileries Garden hosted the fencing events.
Today, the Tuileries Garden is a popular public park for both locals and tourists. The Tuileries covers about 63 acres of land. The garden is carefully arranged with many terraces and artificial ponds. The park also has two large lakes, the Bassin Octogonal and the Bassin Rond. The garden area is decorated with fountains and sculptures by many famous artists, such as Coysevox, Jean Dubuffet, Giacometti, and Rodin.
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Inside the garden, there are two important museums: the Musée de l’Orangerie and Gallery of Jeu de Paume. Musée de l’Orangerie is southwest of the Tuileries and includes Claude Monet’s famous Nymphéas paintings and a remarkable collection of works by Picasso, Cézanne, Renoir, and Matisse. The gallery of Jeu de Paume was originally an army storehouse, but in 1927 it was transformed into an exposition site for images and photography. Because of its beauty and rich history, the Tuileries Garden has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.