Château de Versailles

Paris Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 16 › view all entries

The Palace of Versailles, or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles, France.

In French, it is known as the Château de Versailles. When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris. From 1682, when King Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in 1789, the Court of Versailles was the centre of power in Ancien Régime France. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy which Louis XIV espoused.

Origins and the first château: Louis XIII

The earliest mention of the village of Versailles is found in a document dated 1142, the “Charte de l'abbaye Saint-Père de Chartres” (Charter of the Abbey of Saint-Père de Chartres). Of the signatories of the charter was one Hugo de Versailles, hence the name of the village. During this period, the village of Versailles centered on a small castle and church and the area was controlled by a local lord. The village's location on the road from Paris to Dreux and Normandy brought some prosperity to the village but following the Black Plague and the Hundred Years War, the village was largely destroyed and its population severely diminished.

In 1575, Albert de Gondi, a Florentine, purchased the seigneury of Versailles. Gondi had arrived in France with Catherine de Medici and his family became influential in the French Parliament. In the early decades of the 17th century, Gondi invited Louis XIII on several hunting trips in the forests of Versailles. Following this initial introduction to the area, Louis XIII ordered the construction of a hunting chateau in 1624. Designed by Philibert Le Roy, the structure was constructed of stone and red brick with a slate roof. Eight years later, in 1632, Louis obtained the seigneury of Versailles from the Gondi family and began to make enlargements to the château.

KeikoCreative says:
Posted on: Jan 27, 2011
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: Sweetski