Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles ( vair-SY, vur-SY; French: Château de Versailles [ʃɑto d(ə) vɛʁsɑj] (listen)) 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 lodging 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. 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.

In 2017 the Palace of Versailles received 7,700,000 visitors, making it the second-most visited monument in the Île-de-France region, just behind the Louvre and ahead of the Eiffel Tower.

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