The Grandeur of the Château de Versailles in France

Europe - Editor - 16 November 2012

The Grandeur of the Château de Versailles in France

When the magnificent Château de Versailles initially started out as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII in 1624, the village from which it took its name was out in the country, some twenty kilometers from Paris. Today, Versailles is a suburb of the capital city of France, and the Palace of Versailles is an architectural, cultural and historical monument with 2,300 rooms displaying thousands of paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings, items of furniture and objets d'art, and is listed as one of the internationally acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

When Louis XIV moved from Paris to Versailles in 1682, the court of Versailles was at the very center of political power in France. The French Revolution began in May 1789, and in October the historic march on Versailles started among women in the marketplaces of Paris, who were in a desperate situation with trying to feed their families. They ransacked the city armory, took weapons and began to march to the Palace of Versailles. By the time they reached there, their numbers had swelled to thousands, and the crowd's mood was volatile. They besieged the palace, made their demands known to King Louis XVI and forced the king, his family, and the majority of the members of the French Assembly to return to Paris with them, effectively ending the absolute authority of the king. For this reason, the Château de Versailles is one of the most iconic buildings for that tumultuous period of France's history and an attraction not to be missed when visiting this charming European country.

While the Château is one of France's most visited tourist attractions, it currently still serves some political functions, most notably for the Sénate and Assemblée to meet for discussions relating to the French Constitution, a tradition which began with the declaration of the 1875 Constitution, while heads of state are received in the iconic Hall of Mirrors.

The garden of Versailles covers 800 hectares of land, and is the finest example of the French formal garden style - jardin à la Française. Designed for Louis XIV by landscape architect André Le Nôtre, the garden is based on symmetry, imposing artistic order over nature by the extensive use of topiary principles. This labor intensive endeavor has an undeniable appeal and visitors may want to take some time to stroll along the pathways and fountains imagining the extravagance and splendor of times long past.


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