Skip over navigation

NEN Gallery

NEN Gallery
Home / Places (Foreign & Travel) / France / The Palace of Versailles near Paris. / The Palace of Versailles.
Asset 1 of 1 Previous Asset [ 1 ] Next Asset   [Slideshow]
Versailles was the royal residence of France for a little more than a century--from 1682 until 1789, when the French Revolution began. Louis XIII built a hunting lodge at the village outside Paris in 1624. This small structure became the base on which was constructed one of the most costly and extra...

The Palace of Versailles.


640 x 427

Unique Id:


This item is saved in one of your albums. Click to remove it.. My Albums

Versailles was the royal residence of France for a little more than a century--from 1682 until 1789, when the French Revolution began. Louis XIII built a hunting lodge at the village outside Paris in 1624. This small structure became the base on which was constructed one of the most costly and extravagant buildings in the world. It was meant to be a home for Louis XIV, the Sun King, who boasted of himself, "I am the state." The men in charge of the project were Louis Le Vau, architect; Charles Le Brun, painter and decorator; and Andre Le Notre, landscape architect. About 37,000 acres of land were cleared to make room for tree-lined terraces and walks and thousands of flowering plants. There were 1,400 fountains and 400 pieces of new sculpture.

In 1676 another architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, was put in charge of redesigning and enlarging the building. Starting with Le Vau's plans, Hardouin-Mansart added a second story and built the magnificent Hall of Mirrors and the north and south wings.

There was much activity at Versailles between the years 1678 and 1684. Mansart directed a building campaign which included the transformation of the marble court, the construction of the Ministers' Wings, the Southern wing and the Hall of Mirrors which was decorated with an exquisite set of silver furnishings. The construction of Versailles was completed near the end of Louis XIV's life. The chapel was built last and was finished after Mansart's death in 1708 by his son-in-law Robert de Cotte.

Louis XV moved the court back to Versailles in June of 1722, and attained his majority as King the following year. He married the daughter of the exiled King of Poland, Marie Leczinska and after the birth of three daughters, she finally gave birth to the Dauphin, the Crown Prince, in 1729 at the Palace of Versailles. Anges-Jacques Gabriel, whose father had been the King's First Architect, became the Official Architect for Louis XV in 1742. Gabriel supervised new additions of the Palace, including the Salon of Hercules, the Opera House and the Petit Trianon. In 1755 he redecorated the King's Council Chamber. Gabriel's designs signalled the break from heavy ornamented Rococo decoration to the lighter Neoclassical style, with pilasters, columns and symmetry.

Construction of the palace went on through the next century. More than 36,000 workers were involved in the project, and when the building was completed it could accommodate up to 5,000 people, including servants. About 14,000 soldiers and servants were quartered in annexes and in the town. During the Seven Year's War France lost most of its overseas possessions to Britain. Some of the damage was repaired in the 1760's by the minister, the duc de Choiseul but Louis XV left his successor, his grandson Louis XVI, a debt of 4000 million livres that burdened the state when he died in 1774.

Despite the financial burdens, Louis XVI immediately had the gardens replanted at Versailles upon his succession and had a new library built in his private apartments by Anges-Jacques Gabriel. His wife, Marie Antoinette, seen below in a portrait by Madame Vigee-Lebrun, constantly had her private apartments changed and rearranged at Versailles. She also made use of the workshop of the Menus Plaisirs, the shops at Versailles that created special interiors, sets and even funeral monuments. They were constantly created new portable party pavilions that the young Queen could use to entertain her small group of friends.

In 1788 the French government went bankrupt. Louis XVI was forced to call for a meeting of the Estates-General, a representative body of the government that had not met in 175 years. They met in the town of Versailles at the Jeu de Paume, a tennis court, which became the backdrop for the French Revolution.

On the morning of October 6, 1789 a mob of angry Parisians, mostly women, marched to the Palace demanding bread. They stormed the Palace, ran up the Queen's Staircase and broke into the Guard's Room, then into the Antechambre. Marie Antoinette ran from her bedchamber into her private apartments towards the King's Suite to find her husband and son. Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette were taken to Paris as prisoners with their children. They never saw the Palace of Versailles again.

Versailles was put into the hands of the new government. In 1792 the Royal furniture was sold and dispersed and the works of art from the Palace were taken to the Louvre in Paris.Napoleon Bonaparte took an interest in the Palace and commissioned restoration work, which was continued by the reinstated monarchy in 1814 by Louis XVI's brother, Louis XVIII. In the 1830's Louis-Phillippe decided to make the Palace into a museum of French history, which was inaugurated in 1837. The Palace continued to place an important role in European history: in 1871 the Hall of Mirrors was the setting for the Proclamation of the German Empire and in 1919 the Hall was the site were the Treaty of Versailles was signed and ended World War
In 1962 a decree was issued ordering all of the objects belonging to the Palace and preserved in French Collections to be brought back to Versailles. The restoration of the Palace is ongoing. Most recently the apartments on the ground floor, once occupied by the Dauphin and Dauphine, were opened to the public in 1986. Funded by two French government grants, more than 80 rooms were involved in the largest single restoration in Versailles history. Parts of the palace that had been damaged or rebuilt after the French Revolution were restored to their original design. Some of the original furniture was recovered, paintings were returned, and wall coverings were replaced.

Today the Palace of Versailles is one of France's national monuments. The building is so large that only a small portion of it is open to the public. Many of the rooms are government offices. Visitors may tour the sections of the north and south wings closest to the center as well as the central section itself.

1st May 2005

Art and Design, Design and Technology, Geography, History, Modern Foreign Languages

Key Stages:
Foundation, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

Versailles, Palace of Versailles, Grand canal, French Revolution

Related Links:

EXIF data:

National Education Network
Developed by E2BN for the National Education Network
E2B® and E2BN® are registered trade marks and trading names of East of England Broadband Network (Company Registration No. 04649057)