Palace of Versailles France, Versailles

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles, Château de Versailles, or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. It is now open as a museum, and a very popular tourist attraction.

When the château was built, Versailles was a small village dating from the 11th century; today, however, it is a wealthy suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of the centre of the French capital. Versailles was the seat of political power in the Kingdom of France from 1682, when King Louis XIV moved the royal court from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789, within three months after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.

Especially under Louis XIV, the whole senior nobility were pressured to spend large amounts of time at Versailles, as a form of political control. Louis XIV evolved a rigid routine of court life as a performance, much of which took place in front of large groups of people, at some points in the day including tourists. Building the château and maintaining the court there was phenomenally expensive, but did a good deal to establish the dominance of French style and taste in the whole of Europe, giving French luxury manufacturing advantages that long outlasted the fall of the Ancien Régime.

Louis XIV's expansion of the building was begun around 1661, with Louis Le Vau as architect. It was not completed until about 1715, having been worked on by architects including François d'Orbay, Charles Le Brun (interiors especially), Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte. André Le Nôtre began the gardens and structures in them. There were a range of satellite buildings around the grounds. While the main château building remains essentially intact, though without much of its contents, some of these have been destroyed.

Photos