Palace of Versailles

In 1789, the French Revolution forced Louis XVI to leave Versailles for Paris. The Palace would never again be a royal residence and a new role was assigned to it in the 19th century, when it became the Museum of the History of France in 1837 by order of King Louis-Philippe, who came to the throne in 1830. The rooms of the Palace were then devoted to housing new collections of paintings and sculptures representing great figures and important events that had marked the History of France. These collections continued to be expanded until the early 20th century at which time, under the influence of its most eminent curator, Pierre de Nolhac, the Palace rediscovered its historical role when the whole central part was restored to the appearance it had had as a royal residence during the Ancien Régime.

The Palace of Versailles never played the protective role of a medieval stronghold. Beginning in the Renaissance period, the term “chateau” was used to refer to the rural location of a luxurious residence, as opposed to an urban palace. It was thus common to speak of the Louvre “Palais” in the heart of Paris, and the “Château” of Versailles out in the country. Versailles was only a village at the time. It was destroyed in 1673 to make way for the new town Louis XIV wished to create. Currently the centrepiece of Versailles urban planning, the Palace now seems a far cry from the countryside residence it once was. Nevertheless, the garden end on the west side of the Estate of Versailles is still adjoined by woods and agriculture

Louis XIV first visited the château on a hunting trip in 1651 at the age of twelve, but returned only occasionally until his marriage to Maria Theresa of Spain in 1660 and the death of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661, after which he suddenly acquired a passion for the site.[8] He decided to rebuild, embellish and enlarge the château and to transform it into a setting for both rest and for elaborate entertainments on a grand scale.The first phase of the expansion (c. 1661–1678) was designed and supervised by the architect Louis Le Vau. Initially he added two wings to the forecourt, one for servants quarters and kitchens, the other for stables.In 1668 he added three new wings built of stone, known as the envelope, to the north, south and west (the garden side) of the original château. These buildings had nearly-flat roofs covered with lead. The king also commissioned the landscape designer André Le Nôtre to create the most magnificent gardens in Europe, embellished with fountains, statues, basins, canals, geometric flower beds and groves of trees. He also added two grottos in the Italian style and an immense orangerie to house fruit trees, as well as a zoo with a central pavilion for exotic animals.After Le Vau’s death in 1670, the work was taken over and completed by his assistant François d’Orbay.

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles  was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI. It is located in the department of Yvelines, in the region of Île-de-France, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of the centre of Paris.A simple hunting lodge and later a small château with a moat occupied the site until 1661, when the first work expanding the château into a palace was carried out for Louis XIV. In 1682, when the palace had become large enough, the king moved the entire royal court and the French government to Versailles. Some of the palace furniture at this time was constructed of solid silver, but in 1689 much of it was melted down to pay for the cost of war. Subsequent rulers mostly carried out interior remodeling, to meet the demands of changing taste, although Louis XV did install an opera house at the north end of the north wing for the wedding of the Dauphin and Marie Antoinette in 1770.

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The palace has also been a site of historical importance. The Peace of Paris (1783) was signed at Versailles, the Proclamation of the German Empire occurred in the vaunted Hall of Mirrors, and World War I was ended in the palace with the Treaty of Versailles, among many other events.The palace is now a historical monument and UNESCO World Heritage site, notable especially for the ceremonial Hall of Mirrors, the jewel-like Royal Opera, and the royal apartments; for the more intimate royal residences, the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon located within the park; the small rustic Hameau (Hamlet) created for Marie Antoinette; and the vast Gardens of Versailles with fountains, canals, and geometric flower beds and groves, laid out by André le Nôtre. The Palace was stripped of all its furnishings after the French Revolution, but many pieces have been returned and many of the palace rooms have been restored

The site of the Palace was first occupied by a small village and church, surrounded by forests filled with abundant game. It was owned by the Gondi family and the priory of Saint Julian. King Henry IV went hunting there in 1589, and returned in 1604 and 1609, staying in the village inn. His son, the future Louis XIII, came on his own hunting trip there in 1607. After he became King in 1610, Louis XIII returned to the village, bought some land, and in 1623–24 built a modest two-story hunting lodge on the site of the current marble courtyard.He was staying there in November 1630 during the event known as the Day of the Dupes, when the enemies of the King’s chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, aided by the King’s mother, Marie de’ Medici, tried to take over the government. The King defeated the plot and sent his mother into exile.After this event, Louis XIII decided to make his hunting lodge at Versailles into a château. The King purchased the surrounding territory from the Gondi family and in 1631–1634 had the architect Philibert Le Roy replace the hunting lodge with a château of brick and stone with classical pilasters in the doric style and high slate-covered roofs, surrounding the courtyard of the original hunting lodge.