Versailles Castle is one of the most famous and historic buildings in France. Officially known as the Royal Palace, it has been the royal residence of French monarchs for a little over 100 years. The Palace of Versailles was originally ordered by Louis XIII for his hunting retreat. When the construction began in 1631 it was a modest castle, it was only when Louis XIV was made king that Versailles was transformed into the luxurious palace we know today.
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most famous and historic buildings in Versailles, France. Officially known as the Palais Royal or Palais de l'Etoile de la Ville, it was the royal residence of French monarchs for just over a hundred years.
After becoming King in 1610, Louis XIII bought a piece of land and ordered a hunting lodge to be built on two floors in 1623. He stayed there in November 1630 for the event known as Dupes' Day, when the enemies of the king’s Prime Minister, Cardinal Richelieu, assisted by the king’s mother, Marie de Medicis, attempted to take over the power. Following this event, Louis XIII decided to transform his hunting lodge into a castle. The architect Philibert Le Roy replaced the hunting lodge with a brick and stone castle with classic Doric-style pilasters and high slate roofs, surrounding the courtyard of the original hunting lodge. Originally, the local nobility made fun of the small castle, yet moved into the palace after the death of Louis XIII.
King Louis XIV, the Sun King, moved the French royal residence and government to Versailles and spent nearly 50 years developing it. The expansion of the castle was a constant concern of Louis XIV as he made construction work an ever-intensifying event in Versailles. Le Vau, who was the chief architect of Versailles during the early reign of Louis XIV, was tasked to supervise the first expansion phase and designed most of the building, although he died when only the central part of the building was completed. In 1678, Jules Hardouin-Mansart carried out the rest of the extensive works that gave the Palace of Versailles its final appearance. The most important place in the castle’s park is the Grand Trianon. It was built by Louis XIV in 1668 to create a striking pink marble building as a private space to escape the hustle and bustle of the always-busy Versailles Palace. The Petit Trianon however, was built between 1763 and 1768 for Louis XV, and made famous a few years later when Louis XVI gave it to his bride, Marie-Antoinette, as a gift.
Laying the first stones of the French Revolution, the "Women's March on Versailles" forced Louis XVI to move to Paris, which meant the end of the palace as a royal residence. Yet, the Palace of Versailles continued to influence architecture in the late 18th century and survived the iconoclasm of the French Revolution.
Today, the Versailles Palace houses several museums and an art gallery. You can purchase tickets for tours around the Palace, the Trianons and the Gardens. The most expensive formula includes all the tour elements and access to boutiques and restaurants, while less expensive formulas are offered to focus your visit on only some elements of the Palace.