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The Louvre Pyramid is a large glass and metal pyramid, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard (Cour Napoleon) of the Louvre Palace in Paris. The large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Completed in 1989, it has become a landmark of the city of Paris. Commissioned by then President of France François Mitterrand in 1984, it was designed by the architect I. M. Pei. The structure, which was constructed entirely with glass segments, reaches a height of 20.6 meters; its square base has sides of 35 meters.

The construction of the pyramid triggered considerable controversy because many people felt that the futuristic edifice looked quite out of place in front of the Louvre Museum with its classical architecture. Certain detractors ascribed a "Pharaonic complex" to Mitterrand.

It has been claimed by some that the glass panes in the Louvre Pyramid number exactly 666, "the number of the Beast", often associated with Satan. Various historical enthusiasts have speculated at the purpose of this factoid. The story of the 666 panes originated in the 1980s, when the official brochure published during construction did indeed cite this number (even twice, though a few pages earlier the total number of panes was given as 672 instead). The number 666 was also mentioned in various newspapers. The Louvre museum however states that the finished pyramid contains 673 glass panes (603 rhombi and 70 triangles). A higher figure was obtained by David A. Shugarts, who reports that the pyramid contains 689 pieces of glass. Shugarts obtained the figure from the offices of I.M. Pei. Various attempts to actually count the panes in the pyramid have produced slightly discrepant results, but there are definitely more than 666. A quick calculation based on 18 units per edge with two tiers removed in the center at the entrance easily confirms the 673 number.

The myth resurfaced in 2003, when Dan Brown incorporated it in his best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code. Here the protagonist reflects that "this pyramid, at President Mitterrand's explicit demand, had been constructed of exactly 666 panes of glass - a bizarre request that had always been a hot topic among conspiracy buffs who claimed 666 was the number of Satan".

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Additional Photos by Alexander Pasternak (pasternak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1341 W: 179 N: 3373] (15185)
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