The History of the PalaceIn the city of Versailles, which is located 25 km south-west of Paris, stand the Palace and Gardens of Versailles (Palace de Versailles), astounding relics of the royal times. If you thought to yourself, why would the kings of Paris want to distance themselves from the Parisian masses? The answer is that the transfer of the official royal residence from the Louvre Palace in Paris to the Versailles region was a calculated political move by Louis the 14th. The entire French aristocracy lived in Paris, and the palace in Versailles forced the nobles who wanted to approach the king and the government, to reach him, all the way in Versailles. To leave their businesses, their home and live in the kings house. King Louis basically wanted to move the place of power from Paris to Versailles.
Louis the 14th decided that he wanted to distance himself a little from crowded Paris and find himself a place outside the city. A few years prior, in 1624, a hunting hut was built for his father Louis the 13th in Versailles. Louis the 14th decided to hire an architect that would transform the hunting hut into a luxurious palace. The architect was Louis Le Vaux, who managed the Palace for 7 years through the manpower of thousands of workers who constructed the castle and gardens. In 1682, King Louis the 14th moved to the castle, a few years before it was completely finished.
However, the king did not settle only for his own move, he also invited the aristocrats and court officials to accompany him on his way to Versailles and gave them plots around the castle for free. Every aristocrat and court official had to follow two conditions: 1. They had to pay an annual tax to the king. 2. They could not leave their plot empty, and had to build a house on it according to plans prepared by the king's architect. The construction created a wonderfully planned city - built symmetrically and harmoniously. And of course, the rooftops of the new houses should not rise beyond the central height of the palace...
The Abandoning of Versailles PalaceDuring the French Revolution, an angry mob from Paris attacked the Palace of Versailles and forced the royal family to leave and return to Paris. Thus began the mass abandonment of the city. The magnificent palace, many of whose furniture and decorations were destroyed or stolen, was abandoned and deserted. In 1837, King Louis Philippe saved the lousy palace, as he turned it into a national museum dedicated to "the glory of France."
What is so Special about the Palace of Versailles?The Palace of Versailles was the most luxurious palace, built by the French King Louis the 14th. He probably had big needs, considering that this palace, which is one kilometer long, has 700 rooms!
The palace showed all of Europe the power of the king and it was so fancy that all the European royal houses imitated the look of it. This did not prevent any king of the French line from adding another part to the palace, including an entire village built for Queen Marie Antoinette, to enjoy the country's rural quietness.
Life at the Palace of Versailles included ceremonies, the changing of clothes, and feasts. The king's nobles would come to the palace for a long time and most of it was devoted to fun, parties, banquets, concerts and sexual debauchery. Signs of this flamboyant lifestyle can be seen in the magnificent and ornate palace illustrating the lavish approach of the French kings in the 17th and 18th centuries. The palace is the clearest symbol of the gap between the magnificence and wealth of the monarchy in the face of the depression and poverty of the lower class. The fact that this luxurious palace is located outside of Paris symbolizes the detachment of the monarchy at the time and ultimately brought about the French Revolution.
The compound includes the main palace, the Trianon palaces, the Marie Antoinette mansion and beautiful gardens. The gardens feature stylish balconies, cut-out beds in classic French style, sculptures, fountains and a large canal where gondolas and boats sail.
Many important historic event were held in the Palace of Versailles such as the peace agreement at the end of World War I, an agreement called "The Treaty of Versailles." As revenge, Hitler insisted, during the World War II to return to the Palace, and sign a new agreement declaring the surrender of France to Nazi Germany.
The Gardens of VersaillesFrench King Louis the 14th wanted in his most decorated palace beautiful gardens. The architect Andre La Notre, the most important landscape architect of France was hired for the job. Thousands of workers, gardeners and builders worked to create the extraordinary garden. Vast amounts of dirt and plants were brought for the job from all over Europe. That's how the Gardens of Versailles were designed in the 17th century and they became the most beautiful gardens in Europe.
The gardens founded on the east side of palace, spread over 8,000 acres of land. They contain an impressive combination of flower designs, plants cut in interesting shapes and sculptures, water canals, trees, pools with ornamental fish, magical water fountains, hundreds of art sculptures and more.
About 200,000 trees are planted in the Gardens of Versailles, with 210,000 flowers being planted annually. In the entrance of the garden you can rent a golf cart or buy tickets for a small train that take you around the garden. In order to see all the gardens and the more distant castles (the great Trianon, the small house and Marie Antoinette's village house) you must walk a very long distance, so there are also transportation solutions for those who desire. To whoever decides to walk in the gardens, you will occasionally find coffee and ice creams stands.
Naturally, during the winter the gardens do not bloom as much - many of the sculptures are covered by the rain, there are almost no flowers and the whole place has an atmosphere of renovation and maintenance. You can still enjoy the palaces and the special winter atmosphere, but of course the experience is not perfect.
Today, the Versailles Gardens are among the most famous gardens in the world. They are also popular tourist destinations in France and are considered a must-visit site for millions of tourists who visit France each year.
The Palace of Versailles for TouristsThe Palace of Versailles is one of the most luxurious and beautiful places, and visiting in is a unique experience. It consists of four main sections: the main building, which is a classic structure with many elegant sides, two separate palaces and the fourth part, contains spacious gardens designed by a special garden architect - it is spectacular, with water fountains, ponds, meadows, trees, flowers, everything is green and astonishing.
In the summer, there are extremely long line in the entrance to the palace, after visiting several rooms, you will be stunned by the amount of wealth displayed. Try not to miss the stunning "Hall of Mirrors" where the famous Versailles Treaty was signed in 1919 and the separate bedrooms of the King and Queen.
At the entrance to the palace take a map, because it is huge and includes a wide variety of buildings.
Versailles StoriesIf you take a guided tour in the palace, you will be told by the guides interesting stories. One of them is the story about the King's waking ceremony. Every morning the dignitaries of the court were invited to watch the king wake from his sleep. The room would fill with people, sometimes up to 100, and everyone would stand waiting for his eyes to open. If the king had not woken up by himself, one of his servants would wake him up as all the people around him watch his yawning, stretching, bathing and dressing. It was a prestigious ceremony to be invited to was considered a tremendous privilege to invitees.
The Treaty of VersaillesSometimes when you want peace, you might get war. This historic lesson was taught by the World War II. This war, which would soon be the biggest and most deadly war in the history of mankind, broke out partially because of the Treaty of Versailles, the peace treaty that did not bring peace.
The Treaty of Versailles, which was signed in the palace you are standing in right now, in the impressive Hall of Mirrors, was a treaty that was signed after the world war I, by the three sides that fought in it. It was no coincidence that this place was chosen, since this was the place where the coronation of the united German emperor took place in 1871.
The Treaty of Versailles laid the blame of "The Big War." World War I, on Germany and its allies. The treaty declared that responsibility for "all losses caused to the Allies and their friends, in the wake of the war imposed on them by the attack of Germany and its allies.”
Among the clauses of the treaty were huge compensation payments to the enemies of Germany, the transfer of many factories and territories from Germany to the victorious countries, the limitation of the strength of the German army, the dismantling of fortifications and the prohibition on building new ones, the destruction of weapons and submarines, and more.
The Treaty of Versailles and its harsh clauses against Germany are considered to be the most significant elements in the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany and later in the outbreak of World War II. One of the reasons was the chaos in Germany caused by the German economic collapse as a result of the heavy compensation payments Germany was required to pay. The improved fighting tactics developed by the German army due to the restrictions imposed on it by the agreement and the release of many of the worse officers in favor of the best officers who remained. But first and foremost, the feeling of humiliation that the Germans felt, caused them to believe that the people in the Nazi party will restore the honor lost in Versailles.