Versailles, Palace and Park - Visit time : 1 day.
An exceptional palace for an exceptional king, Louis XIV, the Palace of Versailles remains the emblem of French monarchy.
No word would be enough to define its magnificence, surrounded by sumptuous French gardens, groves and fountains, a canal, a park sufficiently large for hunting outings and of course, in contrast to this exceptional and unique ensemble, the bucolic grounds of Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. And it is here at Versailles that the history of 17th and 18th century France was written.
The prestigious palace complex, including the Trianon palaces and the park of Versailles, is the result of a century and a half of work commissioned by the kings of France and entrusted to their greatest artists. The strongest impression was of course left by Louis XIV, who decided on the expansion of the small existing castle of brick and stone, built in 1624 by his father, Louis XIII. The first additions occurred after 1661 under the direction of Louis Le Vau, in a dominant Italian style. André Le Nôtre would design the gardens, which were soon to be famous throughout Europe.
Versailles was considerably enlarged and radically changed after 1678, by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who was able to impose a sober, colossal (the Palace of Versailles was developed next to the gardens at a length of 670 meters), homogeneous and majestic architectural style, now inseparable from the memory of the Sun King. The famous Hall of Mirrors between the War and Peace Salons, is the masterpiece of the classicist and typically French design, known more recently as the Louis XIV style. The Orangerie and the Grand Trianon are also the work of Hardouin-Mansart, who was assisted by Robert de Cotte for the Royal Chapel. The creations of Versailles from the 18th century are among the most perfect and most famous achievements of the Louis XV and Louis XVI styles : the Petit Trianon by Jacques Ange Gabriel in 1751, the decoration of Louis XV’s apartments by Verbeckt and Rousseau, and Marie-Antoinette’s apartments and hamlet by Richard Mique.
The classified area, introduced in 1979, includes the palace, the Grand and Petit Trianons and the park.
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i) : The ensemble of the palace and park of Versailles is a unique artistic achievement in its scale, quality and originality.
Criterion (ii) : Versailles has had considerable influence in Europe from the late 17th and 18th centuries. Wren used Versailles as inspiration at Hampton Court, Schlüter in Berlin, in designing the façades of the Royal Palace. Small versions of Versailles popped up everywhere in Europe. The gardens of Le Nôtre, designed by the architect himself or by his imitators, are too numerous to count : from Windsor at Cassel, to Sweden, Denmark, Russia ...
Criterion (vi) : The Palace of Versailles was the most appropriate, best-suited environment for the life of the court of France for a century and a half. It was during this time that Louis XIV perfected his code of courtly behavior – "etiquette". However, it was also where the people of Paris captured Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette on October 6, 1789.
Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS