Grand Palace (Grand Palais)

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The Grand Palais (the Big Palace) is located in the centre of Paris, at the 3rd avenue du Général-Eisenhower. The building is the largest existing ironwork and glass structure in the world. Its steel framework weights 8500 tons, the glass covers the area of 15 000 square metres and there were 5 200 square metres of galvanized iron used at the roof. This ironwork of Art Nouveau style is combined with the imposing Classical façade.

It was built for the World’s Fair in 1900 together with Petit Palais (the Little Palace) and the Pont Alexandre III (at similar World Fair the Eiffel Tower was built few years earlier). Although, as other buildings built during the World Fair, the Grand Palais was meant to be temporary construction, it stands until now. It was made of stone, decorated with coloured mosaics and sculpted friezes. There is a huge curve-glass roof with a Belle Epoque flourish of a pinnacle.

Since the beginning, it has been a public exhibition centre, erected 'par la République à la gloire de l'art français' (by the Republic for the glory of French Art), and it holds temporary exhibitions that are usually very popular.

It has been closed since 1993, when one of the glass ceiling panels fell. Between 2001 and 2004 the first part of restoration took. It cost more than 72 million Euro. The second, additional restoration is planned to be finished in 2007 and the total restoration cost will be more than 101 million Euros.

The Palais was reopened as the part of the French National Heritage Weekend, on the 17th and 18th September 2005. As a bonus, two huge globes were exhibited. They were originally commissioned and made for Louis XIV, The Sun King by Vincenzo Coronelli. Both have 384 centimeters long diameter and weigh 1 500 kilograms each. One is a terrestrial globe, showing the world as it was known in the late 17th century, while the other is a celestial globe showing stars and their constellations.

There is a major police station in the basement of the Palais. It helps to protect the exhibits on shows and particularly the picture expositions salons as the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Salon d'Automne and Salon "Comparaisons".
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