Opera Garnier in Paris France

1/18/2010 02:44:00 PM ·

The Opera Garnier was one of the buildings that was constructed during the reign of Napoleon III, when Paris was being transformed into a modern city.

Charles Garnier, an inexperienced architect, was commissioned to build after a grueling competition. His taste was diverse, and quite eclectic, combining a Neo-Baroque and Renaissance element into what was called "a gigantic wedding cake".

The facade features several ornate sculptures, most famously The Dance, which is an erotic collection of nude sculptures by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. One Parisian, in fact, did not appreciate the art and sprayed it with ink on its first appearance.

Inside of the Opera Garnier is a most impressive staircase that has marble steps and banisters of onyx. The ceiling was painted by Marc Chagall, which depicts several opera scenes and tourist destinations.

If you remember the Phantom of the Opera, and let's face it, who has not? The underwater river featured in the book by Gaston Leroux, was an idea that came from the watery foundation in the basement of the Opera Garnier, and it continuously had to be pumped out by workers during the construction.

Today, with the success of the musical Phantom of the Opera, the interest in the Opera Garnier has managed to stay as strong as it was in the 19th century.

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