Do You Know Why You Paid to See This? A Pop Quiz

Friday, 25 July 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

While in Paris recently I stopped in for a quick visit at the Louvre. I always enjoy visiting my old favourites, like Venus de Milo and the pyramid. And then of course there’s the most famous painting in the world…(see above!)

Every year millions – yes millions – of people travel to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. I’ve been lucky enough to see her several times now. But as I stood at the back of the Mona Lisa crowd this time, I wondered how many of these people actually know (or care) why this masterpiece is so significant. Do I even know? It is the work of Leonardo da Vinci, I know that much. But really, what makes her so special?

And that got me thinking about other works of art, be they buildings, sculptures or other cultural icons that are some of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. To test your knowledge of the facts and significance behind them, take my quick pop quiz:

1. Who is the Mona Lisa a portrait of?

2. Why was the Eiffel Tower built?


3. Rome’s Colosseum is the world’s most famous amphitheatre. It is best known for being used for gladiator contests. What else was it used for?

4. The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from the people of France. It is a symbol of freedom and justice. In her right hand she holds a torch, which signifies hope over despair. What does she hold in her left hand?

5. Italy’s Sistine Chapel is home to Michelangelo’s famous fresco paintings. Aside to being the most popular tourist attraction in The Vatican City, what else goes on here?

6. The first parts of the Great Wall of China were started over 2000 years ago and it is the longest structure ever built by humans. Why was it built?

7. Beijing’s Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 and for almost 500 years served as the home of emperors. Today it’s a public museum that attracts millions of tourists every year. Why was it named the “Forbidden City” in the first place?


8. The Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt is one of oldest and largest statues in the world. It depicts a human head on an animal’s body. What type of animal?

9. The statue of The Little Mermaid sits in the water in Copenhagen, Denmark. The iconic statue is based on the fairy tale of the same name. Who is the author of that fairy tale?

Den lille Havfrue, Langelinie

10. And finally, what is it about the Mona Lisa that is so special?

To see how you did, the answers are below. Now your price of admission will really be worthwhile. And maybe I’ve inspired you to jump on an airplane! 


  1. While it has been the subject of debate, the traditional view is that the Mona Lisa is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini – the wife of a wealthy silk merchant.
  2. The eiffel tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair. It is named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, who’s company designed the tower.
  3. The Colosseum was also used for animal hunts involving thousands of large animals like elephants and lions, battle re-enactments and public executions. At one time it was also used as a quarry.
  4. In her left hand she holds a tablet with the date July 4, 1776. It represents and affirmation of the principles spelled out in the Declaration of Independence. 
  5. The Sistine Chapel is also host to papal enclaves, during which cardinals gather to vote for a new pope. A special chimney in the roof broadcasts the election results, with white smoke meaning a new pope has be selected and black smoke indicating a new pope has not yet been chosen.
  6. For protection from the north. 
  7. The Forbidden City was so named because common people were forbidden to enter.
  8. A lion.
  9. Hans Christian Andersen.
  10. The Mona Lisa is special for many reasons, but many agree it’s her haunting and enigmatic smile that needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.







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  • mike simpson

    6. Mongol hoards, Not sure Michaelangelo was an issue for the Chinese at that time.
    I know honest mistake.

  • GTA_John

    2. “… whose company”