The architect , Charles Garnier, was picked from a design competition that included the architect renovator Viollet Leduc, a favorite of the Empress Eugenie. Work started in 1861 and took more than 14 years to complete because of interruptions due to the Franco- Prussian war (1870) when Paris was under siege, the subsequent Parisian insurection ( Commune ) and the collapse of the Second Empire (1871).
The Palais Garnier is of Beaux Arts style - a mix of classical Roman, Renaissance and Baroque. Its exterior facades feature loggias, balconies and columns sourmounted by busts of musicians and composers like Mozart, Rossini, Beethoven, Mayerber and Halevy. The sculpture groups adorning the main facade represent artistic muses- music, danse, lyric poetry, drama and opera. A statue depicting Apollo by Millet rises at top of the dome in the center of the building.
The interior of Palais Garnier is no less impressive and features a grand white marble staircase framed by an onyx balustrade; a gilded grand foyer, 54 meter long decorated with paintings and frescoes by Paul Baudry and a horseshoe shaped gold and red velvet auditorium adorned at its center by a six ton crystal chandelier and a ceiling painted by Marc Chagall in 1964 (it covers the original one painted by Lenepveu in the 19th century).
At the start of the construction, workers discovered a swamp underneath right where the foundations of the edifice were to be laid. Measures to dry up the swamp proved unsuccessful so a stone tank filled with water was constructed to contain swampy water to rise up through the foundations. A legend of an underground "lake"inhabited by a strange creature came into being in a 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux which was reprised more recently in the successful musical "Phantom of the Opera " by Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Visit www.enchanted-france.com to plan your next trip to Paris and other regions of France.
tags:#Paris, # Paris opera house , #Palais Garnier, # Haussman,#Charles Garnier, #Phantom of the Opera