Featured image of Château de Versailles

The History of Château de Versailles

LocationVersailles, Paris, France (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byFrench State
Official WebsiteChâteau de Versailles
Rooms AvailableNo

Château de Versailles, or Palace of Versailles, is a former royal residence with a magnificent design. It is owned by the French Republic and managed by the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum, and National Estate of Versailles. The beauty of this palace attracts about 15,000,000 visitors each year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the World.

Château de Versailles History

The Young Dauphin, Louis XIII, came to Versailles in 1607 on his first hunting trip. He and his father, Henry IV, discovered a forest and meadows in the area, and they found the location attractive. In 1621, Dauphin returned to the Versailles and decided to build a hunting lodge on it. It took two years for the construction to finish. Around ten years later, the lodge was replaced with a small Château.

In 1643, Louis XIII died, and his wife Anne of Austria became the regent of Louis XIV. The Château was abandoned and only used for hunting till 1661. Louis XIV decided to expand his father’s Château into a full-scale royal palace. Until his death in 1715, he expanded the Château massively, and many other building projects took place on it. The Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI looked after the Château and the state of affairs post that. However, in 1789, the French Revolution was on a high, and France’s royal family had returned to Paris. For decades, the castle was abandoned.

In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte became the Emperor of France. He decided to make Château de Versailles his residence; however, he dropped the idea because it had been abandoned in the past and required renovation. He used it as his summer residence but didn’t restore it. In 1815, the final downfall of Napoleon came, and Louis XVIII, the younger brother of Louis XVI, became the king and returned to Château de Versailles. Minor restorations continued in the castle, but meaningful repairs were made in the palace in the 1830s. Louis decided to add a museum of the history of France to the palace.

The museum was opened in 1837, and many special events and theatres were organised in it. Many alterations and restorations were done in Château de Versailles throughout the 19th century and till mid 20th century. It was damaged further during World War I and II, but the continued repair work allowed the palace to maintain its glory.

In 1978, the Château de Versailles was heavily damaged in a bombing attack by Breton Terrorists. In 1979, the palace and gardens of Château de Versailles were designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. They were made the centre of power, art, and science in France during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1999, over 10,000 trees were damaged because of cyclone Lothar, where more castle parts were damaged. In 2003, the new restoration project began focusing on replanting the trees in the gardens of the Château. The massive restoration work also took place in the palace between 2006 and 2011.

Château de Versailles and its gardens are open to the public as a museum with French displays focusing on the power and art of history.

Architecture

Château de Versailles, by Romaric Juvanon, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Château de Versailles in France has the architectural style of the 17th and 18th centuries. All the Château de Versailles architects who worked on it have left their magical touch on its interiors and exteriors. The palace’s exterior is not as ornate as the inside but is still classical enough to grab anyone’s attention. Its walls are preserved today as the exterior façade near the Marble Court.

The most famous room of Château de Versailles is the Hall of Mirrors. It has the look and feel of the 1600s. It includes:

  • A 230 feet gallery, 
  • 17 wide arcaded mirrors placed near 17th windows, 
  • Glass chandeliers, 
  • An ornately painted ceiling, 
  • Gilded statues, and 
  • Reliefs bordering on marble walls.

The North Wing has a beautiful chapel with the elements of 1699, 1710, and 1789. The South Wing, known as the princess wing, has the battle Gallery, Hall of Congress, and dozens of paintings reflecting battles.

The Gardens of the château de Versailles have a mix of French and English themes. Every detail added to it reflects the royals. You will find ornamental basins, statues, and bronze groups in it. The Royal walk extends westward from the palace. It also includes a fountain with an antique design. The South side of the garden includes a beautiful flower bed and more than 1000 trees. Also, the artificial lake makes this part of the Château de Versailles garden magical. The walkways and paths in the garden are also well-maintained.

Other parts of Château de Versailles to must explore during your visit are:

  • Royal Apartments,
  • The State Apartments of King,
  • The Salons,
  • Private apartments of king and queen,
  • Royal Opera,
  • Ambassador’s staircase,
  • Estate of Versailles,
  • The Trianons, and
  • The Museum of History of France, loaded with antiques and historic elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Château de Versailles famous?

Château de Versailles is famous for one of the greatest French 17th and 18th-century art achievements. It has also been listed as a World Heritage Site for 40 years. Also, its deep history and delightful ornamental structure attract multiple tourists each year.

Who built the Château of Versailles and why?

Louis XIII built Château de Versailles in France as a small hunting lodge. King and his father got attracted to the beauty of the location during their visit to Versailles for hunting. Later, the Lodge was replaced with a Château.

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