Château de Versailles

Versailles, France | C.1661

Photo Credit: ©️EPV / Thomas Garnier

Originally built as a hunting lodge, the Chateau de Versailles emerged as an opulent palace under the reign of Louis XIV. Located in the Ale-de-France region, Versailles served as the principal royal residence for well over a century until the start of the French Revolution in 1789.

In 1623, King Louis XIII returned to the region where he spent his youth and built a two-story hunting lodge. Years later, while at the lodge he discovered that his mother, Marie de Medici, had plotted against him to take over the French government. Louis XIII subsequently sent his mother into exile. This discovery spurred the transformation of the hunting lodge into a chateau.

Louis XIII hired architect Philibert Le Roy to transform the lodge. Designed in the doric style, the brick and stone structure included the courtyard of the original lodge. Garden designer Jacques Boyceau enlarged the gardens and nearby parks to the massive size they remain today. When Louis XIIs son returned to the chateau years later, he would follow in his father’s footsteps.

Like his father, Louis XIV spent his childhood at the chateau. In 1660, he vowed to transform the chateau and its gardens into the most magnificent palace of all of Europe. Throughout his reign, he continued to enlarge the space, at one point hosting up to 7,000 members of court within its walls.

Versailles remained the center of the French monarchy for years. Following the French Revolution, succession of rulers, and another revolution, King Louis Phillipe took the throne. Louis Phillipe had a different vision for Versailles. In 1837, he created the Museum of the History of France in the south wing of the palace. Today, Versailles contains 60,000 pieces of French art and is listed as a World Heritage site.

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