The Palace of Versailles or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles. When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres southwest of the French capital.
The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 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.
The earliest mention of the name of Versailles is in a document dated 1038, relating to the village of Versailles. In 1575, the seigneury of Versailles was bought by Albert de Gondi, a naturalized Florentine, who invited Louis XIII on several hunting trips in the forests surrounding Versailles.
Pleased with the location, Louis ordered the construction of a hunting lodge in 1624. Eight years later, Louis obtained the seigneury of Versailles from the Gondi family and began to make enlargements to the château. This structure would become the core of the new palace.
The Fifth Republic has enthusiastically promoted the museum as one of France’s foremost tourist attractions (Opperman, 2004). The palace, however, still serves political functions. Heads of state are regaled in the Hall of Mirrors; the Sénat and the Assemblée Nationale meet in congress in Versailles to revise or otherwise amend the French Constitution, a tradition that came into effect with the promulgation of the 1875 Constitution.
Public establishment of the museum and Château de Versailles Spectacles recently organised the Jeff Koons Versailles exhibition. Jeff Koons said that "I hope the juxtaposition of today's surfaces, represented by my work, with the architecture and fine arts of Versailles will be an exciting interaction for the viewer.
Features Of The Palace Of Versailles
As a result of Le Vau’s enveloppe of Louis XIII’s château, the king and the queen had new apartments in the new addition, known at the time as the château neuf. The grands appartements, which are known respectively as the grand appartement du roi and the grand appartement de la reine, occupied the main or principal floor of the château neuf.
Grand Appartement Du Roi
Le Vau’s plan called for an enfilade of seven rooms, each dedicated to one of the then known planets and their associated titular Roman deity. Le Vau’s plan was bold as he designed a heliocentric system that centred on the Salon of Apollo. The salon d’Apollon originally was designed as the king’s bedchamber, but served as a throne room.
Grand Appartement De La Reine
Forming a parallel enfilade with that of the grand appartement du roi, the grand appartement de la reine served as the residence of three queens of France – Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche, wife of Louis XIV, Marie Leczinska, wife of Louis XV, and Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI.
Appartement Du Roi (King's Private Apartments)
The appartement du roi is a suite of rooms set aside for the private use of the king. Originally arranged and used by Louis XIV in 1683, these rooms were used by his successors, Louis XV and Louis XVI for such ceremonies as the lever and the coucher.
Le Petit Appartement Du Roi
The petit appartement du roi is a suite of rooms that were reserved for the private use of the king. Occupying the site on which rooms were originally arranged for Louis XIII on the first floor of the château, the space was radically modified by Louis XIV. His successors, Louis XV and Louis XVI drastically modified and remodeled these rooms for their personal use.
Le Petit Appartement De La Reine
The petit appartement de la reine is a suite of rooms that were reserved for the personal use of the queen. Originally arranged for the use of the Marie-Thérèse, consort of Louis XIV, the rooms were later modified for use by Marie Leszczyńska and finally for Marie-Antoinette.
Museum Of The History of France
In the 19th century the Museum of the History of France was founded in Versailles, at the behest of Louis-Philippe I, who ascended to the throne in 1830. Many of the palace’s rooms were taken over to house the new collections and the large Galerie des Batailles (Hall of the Battles) was created to display paintings and sculptures depicting milestones battles of French history. The collections display painted, sculpted, drawn and engraved images illustrating events or personalities of the history of France since its inception.
Gardens of Versailles
Evolving with the château, the gardens of Versailles represent one of the finest extant examples of Garden à la française in French Garden design.
In popular culture
Singer-songwriter Al Stewart released a song entitled "The Palace of Versailles", a song detailing the French Revolution, The Terror, and the military coup of Napoléon Bonaparte, from the perspective of "the lonely Palace of Versailles".