Versailles is one of the largest, most elaborate, royal palaces ever built. This huge and magnificent palace started as a hunting lodge that was built for King Louis XIII in 1624. The small lodge was the beginning of an extremely huge palace that would cost the French government more then they could imagine. Louis XIV (The Sun King) built Versailles to be his home. To Louis, a magnificent palace was a must for royal life. All of the kings and nobles had to have wonderfully decorated palaces (houses), with beautiful paintings, ballrooms, and expensive furniture.
In order for Louis to have such a wonderful place he hired an architect named Louis Le Vau and a painter/decorator named Charles Le Brun. These two men made plans to build a palace that would, including gardens, cover a total of 37,000 acres. Over the period of time that they built the palace, 400 new sculptures were added along with 1,400 fountains. When this was completed, the king, decided it was not enough. Jules Hardouin-Mansart was hired to redesign parts of the palace and add on to it in 1676. Mansart added a whole second story to the palace and designed and built the beautiful Hall of Mirrors.
The Hall of Mirrors contained 17 windows with beautiful views matched to 17 arched mirrors. The hall was decorated with statues, busts of Roman Emperors, and guided candelabra. The ceiling was covered with paintings of Louis XIV’s triumphs. Not only was the hall known for its beauty, but in the future it would be used as a meeting hall for such important events as the signing of the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution and the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. Mansart also added the south and the north wings of the palace.
Mansart kept on building more on to Versailles and nearly finished it, except for the Chapel, all which was built before the death of Louis XIV. Louis XV took over Versailles in 1722. In 1742, he hired an architect named Anges-Jacques Gabriel. He built more and more for the next century. A total of 36,000 workers worked on it until it was finished. Finally, when the construction was done, over 10,000 people lived in the palace, which included nobles and servants. In 1774, Louis XV died leaving a huge debt to his grandson Louis XVI. Even though he was incredibly in debt, Louis XVI had all the gardens redone right away.
Perhaps this is why the French Government went bankrupt in 1788, and they had to give up the palace. This whole thing eventually started the French Revolution. In 1792, Versailles was abandoned. All of the furniture was sold and all the art was brought to museums. The palace was left empty. The French government decided to open up the palace as a museum, during the 1830’s. In 1962, all of the belongings of the palace that could be located were brought back and the palace has almost been completely restored back to its original self.
Also the gardens and statues have been restored, and more then 80 of the rooms have been remodeled and decorated. They are now open to the public.
- “Palace of Versailles. ” (online) @ http://hometown. aol. com/NKnechtel/index. htm, December 15, 1999 Steves, Rick.
- “The Palace of Versailles: Europe. ” (online) @ http://www. ricksteves. com/ccinfo/versail. htm, December 16, 1999 “Palace of Versailles. ” (online) @ http://www. bc. edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/arch/17thc. htm, December 28, 1999 “Palace of Versailles. ” Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 13, 1995