Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V = Versailles Palace - A to Z Challenge

 Château de Versailles

Versailles Entrance Gate, Palace in back, by DG Hudson

The Palace of Versailles or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. The Sun King lived here. 

Versailles, Paris, Gilded Gate, by DG Hudson

In the photo above, the sun emblem appears in the gate design, right below the crown.  When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, it is a suburb of Paris, 20 kilometres southwest of the French capital.

Versailles, Hall of Mirrors Ceiling Detail, by DG Hudson

The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789, after the beginning of the French Revolution.  Versailles is famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.

Versailles, Hall of Mirrors, by DG Hudson

In the early seventeenth century, Louis XIII was invited on several hunting trips in the forests surrounding Versailles, by the family that owned the property. Pleased with the location, Louis ordered the construction of a hunting lodge in 1624. He acquired the property and began to make enlargements in 1632, eight years later. Louis XIV played and hunted at the site as a boy. This structure would become the core of the new Versailles palace.

Versailles Ceiling Detail, with Royal emblem (blue), by DG Hudson

In 1678, Louis XIV began to gradually move the court to Versailles. The court was officially established there on 6 May 1682. By moving his court and government to Versailles, Louis XIV hoped to extract more control of the government from the nobility, and to distance himself from the population of Paris.

Statuary in the Versailles Gardens, by DG Hudson

He established a center of power at this court with government offices, and attendant court functionaries to deal with the thousands of courtiers and their retinues.  The palace became a village of its own with stables, formal gardens and activities.

Versailles - The Queen's Bedchambers with seating, by DG Hudson

By requiring that nobles of a certain rank and position spend time each year at Versailles, Louis prevented them from developing their own regional power at the expense of his own and kept them from countering his efforts to centralize the French government in an absolute monarchy. 

Versailles - The King's Bedchambers, by DG Hudson

The meticulous and strict court étiquette that Louis established was epitomized in the elaborate ceremonies and exacting procedures that accompanied his daily life. 

Versailles Inner Courtyard with Gilt embellishment, by DG Hudson

Like other French court manners, étiquette was quickly imitated in other European courts.

Versailles Gardens with Statuary, by DG Hudson

The search for the original furniture continues, lost during times of unrest and civil protests.   When these pieces are found, they are purchased and returned to the palace as part of the exhibit. (Per our tour guide, items have shown up on ebay.) 

Would you want to live with 3000 aristocrats and their supporting staff?  Have you ever seen Versailles?  Do you like visiting castles or palaces?  Please share in the comments.  I'm listening.


References: - Versailles  -  Chateau de Versailles  - Versailles History