Fantasised home of the French kings, symbol of monarchic power, the Versailles palace still incites enthusiasm and passion today. Important feature of the Versailles property: it sits on 63.154m² with 2,300 rooms.
Originally, a modest hunting castle, named “weak castle of Versailles”, it was constructed by Louis XIII in 1623 and then extended in 1631. In 1669, his son, Louis XIV undertook a great project hoping to change the castle into a royal residence. It was then that successive extensions were undertaken by architecture Louis Le Vau and then Jules Hardouin-Mansart, under the unifying hands of Charles Le Brun. Perceived as a symbol of economic and artistic power of France, it was both the seat of power and absolute monarchy, envied and copied by most European courts. The court and the government thus installed itself at Versailles Palace from 1682, under the order of Louis XIV, and remained there until the Revolution.
Due to revolutionary events, the exercise of power returned to Paris, in the hands of the Parisians. Left empty, abandoned, under the orders of the French Directory Government, the palace became a special museum of French education from 1792 to 1823, then a Battles Gallery “dedicated to all the glories of France”, in 1837, coined as a French history museum by Louis-Philippe. The Battles Gallery changed the function of the palace radically, it was no longer a royal residence but now a museum, a museum that remembered the French monarchy. However it was not just limited to the period of Louis XIV, it addressed the whole period of the French monarchy under the old regime, in a historical perspective.
Classified as a historical monument and inscribed on the list of World Heritage, the Versailles palace is considered one of the major works of the 17th century. It is considered a national symbol referring to a prosperous past and a French way of living.
- Gombrich, Histoire de l’Art. Ed Phaidon. 2001
- Versailles Palace's website : http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage