Dubbed as the greatest achievement of French Baroque Architecture, the Palace of Versailles or Château de Versailles is a grand Royal Palace in France. Being one of the most renowned and largest royal palaces in the world, this majestic Chateau is a magnificent French work of art in view of architecture and Gardening. Tourists visiting from all over the world to Paris do not miss this splendid site located at Versailles, a suburb which is about 20 km away from Paris in Lie de France region. Versailles is easily accessible from major locations of Paris via ever convenient Transport Paris methods such as Paris shuttle services and Paris cabs or pre-arranged Paris Tour services.
Versailles was a small village on the road from Dreux to Paris when King Louis XIII ordered to construct a Hunting Lodge in 1624, It was designed by Philibert Le Roy and constructed as a small Chateau from Stone and red Brick. Nearly eight years later some enlargements were made with creations forecourt with a grilled entrance with two round towers , side gardens and water fountains.
It was during the reign of King Louis XIV who had an immense interest in Versailles, largest expansion to the palace took place making it one of the largest and distinguished palaces in the world. With the intention of moving royal court to Versailles King Luis XIV in 1661 ordered his chief architect Louis Le Vau to start a detailed renovation and expansion project with the help of decorator Charles Lebrun and Landscape Architect Andre Le Notre. The development was carried out in four phases. However during 1662-1663 only minor changes and additions carried out to the buildings and major focus was on gardens.
Under the first building campaign from 1664-1668 involved in changes to the Palace and garden to house 600 guests invited for the party to celebrate War of Devolution against Spain. Second phase of the building campaign occurred from 1669-1772 which was given the palace some of the appearance we see today and Le Vaus envelope of old Hunting Lodge. New buildings included separate apartments for King, Queen and other members of the royal family. Third building campaign was started with the end of Dutch War from 1678-1684 under the direction of architect Jules Mansart. Most of the looks that it has today were given during this period to the palace. New north and south wings were added under the expansion along with re-landscaping palace gardens. In 1682 king Louis XIV officially established his Royal Court at Château de Versailles. Fourth and last building campaign was carried out from 1688-1697 after the defeat of War of the League of Augsburg by king Louis. Expansion was mostly consisted with construction of Royal Chapel and minor renovations were done in royal apartments. Upon completion of chapel in 1710 major developments of the palace was halted.
Upon death of Luis XIV, palace received less significant upgrades and modifications and gardens remained virtually unchanged under the reign of King Luis XV. King eventually decided to move the Royal Court back to Paris along with other government administrative offices. Versailles received a major replanting of gardens during Louis XVI and some structural and interior redesigns.
With the French revolution palace saw many changes. Prior to arrest of Louis XVI royal family moved to Paris. Versailles used as a repository for confiscated art works and later became a national museum; during the revolution and many of its royal furniture were auctioned. During the first empire under Napoleon museum was closed and designated as an imperial château.
Today Palace encircled by 800 hectares of splendid gardens with vistas , fountains and statues which is a finest example of French skills of Gardening. Palace consists with many private apartments for royal family and over 700 rooms for royal guests and government and palace staff along with halls that can house the royal court with 3000 residents. Palace also comprises with more than 2,000 windows, 1,250 fireplaces and 67 staircases.
Unique feature to the Palace of Versailles architecture it’s the best example of French Baroque Architecture. Francois Mansart, Jules Mansart and Louis Le Vau were excellent architects of this art who were in charge during various design and construction phases of the palace. Hence, palace depicts the best characteristics of French Baroque art. In which palace is designed with Massive U shaped building with two long wings ending with Dufour Pavillion and Gabriel Pavillion, less disturbed by all by the undersized low arcades on the main front towards the gardens.
Created by Ange-Jacques Gabriel the Royal Opera of Versailles which has a seating capacity for 1200 guests and a important hall in the palace.
The king and the queen had new apartments know as château neuf as a new addition as a result of ‘envlopppe’ which former hunting lodge absorbed to the palace by Le Vau. In which king’s apartment was comprised of seven rooms. While queen apartment consisted with facilities for the three queens of France.
One of its main highlights is ‘The Hall of Mirrors’ built during 1678-1690 which is the central gallery with 17 mirror clad arches reflecting its 17 windows. There are 357 mirrors have used along with polychrome marbles, gilt bronzes for its decoration. Know as galerie des glaces this room hosted mmany of the ceremonies of the French Court.
Palace also hosts the Museum of the History of France which founded in 19th century and ascended to the throne in 1830 which housed in entire second floor of south wing. In which a rich collection of paining and sculptures showcases different achievements of French History.
Tourism and Transport
Being a UNESCO wolrd heritage site and being one of the most beautiful French art achievements of 18th century this amazing Chateau is one of the most attractive tourist destinations of whole Europe. Palace is open for tourists on all days except for Mondays from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm. Palace of Versailles can be easily accessible via many of the available Transport Paris facilities including Paris Cabs, Paris Shuttle services any many of the Paris Tour operators which include travel packages to major tourist destinations of France. These transport serves in Paris are really affordable and has the highest standards of French hospitality.