Palace of Versailles

During the second phase of expansion of the mansion (c. 1678–1715), two enormous wings north and south of the wings flanking the Cour Royale (Royal Courtyard) were added by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. He also replaced Le Vau's large terrace, facing the garden on the west, with what became the most famous room of the palace, the Hall of Mirrors. Mansart also built the Petites Écuries and Grandes Écuries (stables) across the Place d'Armes, on the eastern side of the château, and, in 1687, the Grand Trianon, or Trianon de Marbre (Marble Trianon), replacing Le Vau's 1668 Trianon de Porcelaine in the northern section of the park. Work was sufficiently advanced by 1682, that Louis XIV was able to proclaim Versailles his principal residence and the seat of the government of the Kingdom of France and also to give rooms in the palace to almost all of his courtiers. After the death of his consort Maria Theresa of Spain in 1683, Louis XIV undertook the enlargement and remodeling of the royal apartments in the original part of the palace, the former hunting lodge built by his father. The Royal Chapel of Versailles, located at the south end of the north wing, was begun by Mansart in 1688, and after his death in 1708 completed by his assistant Robert de Cotte in 1710 The Palace of Versailles started out life as a royal hunting lodge, but later became a palace housing the king’s court. The mammoth structure is ornate, opulent and over the top in its richness. It is one of Paris’s most visited landmarks, with visitors coming to see its magnificent gardens and the Hall of Mirrors with its 357 mirrors decorating 17 arches. The Palace of Versailles ceased being a royal residence during the French Revolution and today houses a museum of French history.

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