Originally a fortress built in the medieval period, Louvre Palace became a royal palace in the fourteenth century under Charles V and was used from time to time by the kings of France as their main Paris residence. Its present structure has evolved in stages since the 16th century. In 1793 part of the Louvre became a public museum, now the Musée du Louvre, which has expanded to occupy most of the building.
The present-day Louvre Palace is a vast complex of wings and pavilions on four main levels which, although it looks to be unified, is the result of many phases of building, modification, destruction and restoration. The Palace is situated in the right-bank of the River Seine between Rue de Rivoli to the north and the Quai François Mitterrand to the south. To the west is the Jardin des Tuileries and, to the east, the Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny, where its most architecturally famous façade, the Louvre Colonnade, and the Place du Louvre are found.
The complex occupies about 40 hectares and forms two main quadrilateralswhich enclose two large courtyards: the Cour Carrée (Square Courtyard), completed under Napoleon I, and the larger Cour Napoléon (Napoleon Courtyard) with the Cour du Carrousel to its west, built under Napoleon III. The Cour Napoléon and Cour du Carrousel are separated by the street known as the Place du Carrousel.