In 1624, Louis XIII (picture), King of France since 1610, commissioned a hunting lodge (picture) in the village of Versailles near Paris. In 1661, his son, King Louis XIV (picture), also named Sun King, commissioned the design of the great Versailles Gardens.
Between 1668 and 1690, Architects Louis Le Vau (picture) and Jules Hardouin Mansard, his successor, enlarged and embellished the Palace of Versailles. Gardener Andre Le Notre (picture) laid out the french style park. Charles Le Brun (picture) designed the paintings and park sculptures.
In 1685, 36 000 people and 6 000 horses were working on the construction of the 500 meters long Palace, which took altogether 50 years.
The Palace of Versailles, including the famous Hall of Mirrors, has been imitated many times by monarchs in Europe during the 18th century. Schonbrunn (picture) in Vienna, Peterhof (picture) in Saint Petersbourg and Caserte (picture) in Italy are the most famous imitations of Versailles.
Louis XIV commissionned Grand Trianon in 1687 for his mistress, Madame de Montespan (picture). Louis XV (picture), Louis XIV's successor, commissionned Petit Trianon in 1762. His successor, Louis XVI, gave it to his wife Marie Antoinette (picture), Princess of Austria.
The King and the Court abruptly left Versailles on October 6th 1789 at the outset of the French Revolution (read details). That was the definitive end of Versailles as the palace of the French monarchy.
From Paris, take the train at Gare Saint-Lazare to Versailles Rive Droite station or at Montparnasse to Versailles Chantier station (Count half an hour from Paris plus twenty minutes walk). Alternatively, discover the Palace of Versailles on a relaxing coach tour.
More top Paris monuments.