On August 17, 1678, King Louis XIV of France moved the royal court from the Louvre Palace to a new palace in the suburbs at Versailles. It was built not only as a seat of royal power. But also as an opulent display of wealth and power which would help cement Louis’ absolute monarchy.
The construction started in 1664 on what used to be a mere hunting lodge owned by King Louis XIII. But it soon became clear that such an enormous undertaking could not be completed without significant political and financial backing.
Today, this grand palace houses one of the finest museums in France. And is often referred to as “the world’s most perfect building”. It has become a symbol of French past and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace already had its beginnings during the reign of Louis XIII. He was involved in many historical activities, including domestic architecture.
Palace of Versailles History
In his quest to create the most elegant and prestigious home for the royal family. King Louis XIV expanded the original building significantly. The result was one of the largest palaces in Europe, which remains impressive over 300 years later. It is not just its size that is impressive. It also includes at least 1,500 rooms and gardens covering 70 hectares (170 acres).
Versailles is also unique in being an enclosed palace with only one entrance on which all rooms have continuous access from one to another without any doors or passages. The first architect to work on Versailles was Louis Le Vau. He designed the interior layout and decoration of the palace.
The second architect was Jules Hardouin-Mansart. He designed the palace in its final form, which still stands today. Hardouin-Mansart’s major contribution was the addition of two gigantic wings. That are symmetrical in design on either side of an enormous courtyard, known as the Cour de Marbre.
Completion of Palace:
The palace was completed by the time of Louis XIV’s death in 1715. Although there was still some work undertaken during the reign of his successor, King Louis XV.
While it was under construction, the court spent time at other royal residences such as Trianon and Saint-Cloud. The move to Versailles is often referred to as a moment in history that marked the end of one era and the beginning of another.
This is because Versailles symbolises both extravagance while also representing a new age of reason. The royal court had been living at Versailles for only a decade when many important things were happening in France around them.
The country was beginning to recover from the turmoil caused by the Fronde rebellion. France was at war with various European countries, including Spain, Austria and Great Britain.
In addition, Louis XIV was ordering significant works of art and architects to decorate Versailles. The period that this occurred is sometimes called the golden age of Versailles.
Many of these new buildings were designed by Pierre Le Muet de Chanvel and Jules Hardouin-Mansart. They had created other important architectural projects such as the Place des Victoires in Paris as well as Jardin du Roi in the Tuileries Gardens.
The gardens of Versailles are also a major attraction, especially the grand canal and the fountains. They were designed to mirror the splendour of the palace and make it look even more impressive. In fact, there were two hundred fountains in total, plus waterfalls and other displays that are now dry or empty.
Palace of Versailles Attractions
The Gardens of Versailles are also a major attraction, especially the grand canal and the fountains. They were designed to mirror the splendour of the palace and make it look even more impressive.
The royal family spent most of their time in one part of Versailles:
The Royal Apartments (now known as The State Apartments). Louis XIV designed each of these rooms to be a different type of room including the King’s bedroom, the Queen’s bedroom and the many chambers that contain elegant furniture and decor.
From anywhere in these apartments, even during a time of crisis, the royal family could look out at the vast gardens and see their reflection in the lake.
A notable feature of Versailles is its size; some feel it is too large to be manageable i.e. it lacks “the right” feel for a palace. The royal family could also move about the palace unnoticed.
The sheer bulk of the palace, combined with its lack of windows, meant that the royal family felt secure from the public eye. This was important to Louis XIV who wanted to maintain his authority and keep a secure location for his family.
There is also a secret apartment that can now only be seen by special permission in which members of French royalty and their guests could hide in times of danger.
Known as the Secret Room and located in the Queen’s apartments, this is often regarded as being one of the most valuable and impressive rooms at Versailles. It includes a corner fireplace, skylights, a balcony with views across the gardens and even an inside staircase leading up to it.
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It is not only a beautiful place to visit, but it remains a popular tourist destination where people can view the opulence of Versailles’ past. Many of the rooms are intact and you can see exactly how they were used by the royals.
There are also numerous pieces of art within the palace that were created for and commissioned by Louis XIV and his family. Some of these paintings include works by Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Andrea del Sarto as well as many other artists who have helped to make Versailles one of France’s top tourist attractions.
How to Reach
Versailles is located just to the east of Paris. It can be reached by car, train, bus and taxi. From the Saint Lazare station, take the Metro or RER trains to Versailles-Rive Gauche.
There are also many buses to come and see Versailles from all across Paris and other places in France. To get more information on how to book Palace of Versailles Tour and other nearby tourist attractions you can visit our website..
Versailles has a special connection with the United Kingdom. Since 1802, the royal family has been on the French throne and since then, the United Kingdom and France have been tied together by an alliance of sorts. In fact, when Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838, her wedding dress was made in France and followed a pattern that is still used today.
Since then, it has always been assumed that one day Prince Charles will be King Louis XVI of France and his son Prince William will be King Charles IX of France. This means that there is a strong link between the royal families of both countries that is still going strong.
One of the Most Popular Tourist Attractions in France:
Today, Versailles is the most popular tourist attraction in France. Each year, thousands of visitors come to see the palace and its many wonders. It has recently been estimated that around two million people visit each year – with some taking guided tours and others choosing to walk freely around this UNESCO world heritage site.
This symbol of opulence has been made accessible to even more people with a new museum known as Le Palais Royal & Musee du Louvre which unites all of Paris’ museums within one huge building.
Versailles is a truly magical place. For the French, it is an almost sacred location and one that they feel deep duty towards. Its history as the first permanent home for the French royal family means that it is also considered to be very special.
Versailles has many statues of great men and women who were once held in high regard by Louis XIV and his family so that when people tour around Versailles, they can learn about illustrious former members of the royal family.