Dedicated to all things musical, Cité de la Musique sprawls across Parc de la Villette in the northeast corner of Paris. The Cité de la Musique and the new Philharmonie de Paris encompass a museum, special exhibitions, educational activities, a restaurant, and a brand-new philharmonic performance hall complex.
The Cité de la Musique now has two buildings — the first designed by French architect Christian Portzamparc and the new Philharmonie de Paris designed by Jean Nouvel. Both buildings are bold and modern and show a brave new face of Paris. With three concert halls in total, a vast museum, and a media library, the Cité de la Musique is a must-see for music lovers, no matter what their musical tastes. Here are 10 good reasons to visit the Cité de la Musique.
The museum has a collection of 7,000 musical instruments and thousands of related music and art objects. The collection was first open to the public back in 1864. Remember?
1,000 instruments are in the permanent collections with national treasures like Frederic Chopin's piano and a guitar owned by Georges Brassens (a famous French singer-songwriter). Don't miss the rich collection of baroque guitars, violas, and Flemish and French harpsichords used at the Chateau of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV.
The museum visitor path follows a musical trail from the 16th century to present day. Here's your chance to see 200 classical guitars, violins made by Stradivari, harpsichords from the 18th century, and saxophones made by Adolph Sax himself.
In January 2015, the Cité de la Musique relocated to the new neighboring complex,the Philharmonie de Paris. The new concert hall within the complex has a capacity of 2,400 guests.
The Philharmonie de Paris includes not only concert halls, but exhibition spaces, rehearsal rooms, educational activities, restaurants and bars.
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Cité de la Musique philharmonie complex are located in Parc de la Villette in the 19th Arrondissement, which was once the slaughterhouse district of Paris. It was revitalized under François Mitterrand's Grands Projets. The park is also where the major science museum is located. The music museum opened in 1995.
Although the instruments are all important examples of their genre, not all of them are that old. When we were there we saw a guitar owned by Frank Zappa and an early synthesizer, about the size of our bathroom!
Voyage to the Italian Baroque era in a model of the music room at the Palace of Mantua where Monteverdi's Orpheus, the first known opera, was performed. See the collection of historic instruments including keyboards, cornets, citterns (a stringed instrument from the Renaissance), and lutes.
There are five permanent collections covering instruments of the Arab world, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
There is a spectacular rooftop viewpoint from the top of the Philharmonie. Architect Jean Nouvel designed the building with access to the top. From the rooftop you can catch spectacular views of Paris including Buttes-Chaumont park, Montparnasse Tower, the dome of Les Invalides, the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur Cathedral, even La Défense and the Stade de France. The rooftop is closed during winter months.
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