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Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles (commonly called Versailles) is a royal chateau of
France built in what became the city of Versailles in 1624 as a small
hunting lodge, with many enormous expansions afterward. Famed for its large
size and very neatly ordered garden by landscape architect Andr Le Ntre.

King Louis XIV was responsible for its construction into a grand palace,
trying to outdo the splendor of Vaux-le-Vicomte built for interim ruler of
France Nicolas Fouquet. Versailles became a symbol of the height of
aristocratic indulgences; Louis XIV often held parties here and invited the
nobles to stay. By keeping them away from their estates and in the midst of
luxury, Louis XIV reduced the power of the nobles and allowed himself to
have more direct rule over France.

While the Palace was grand and luxurious, it was also impossibly expensive
to maintain. Historians estimate that maintaining the Palace, including the
care and feeding of its staff and the Royal Family, consumed as much as 25%
of the entire national income of the country of France.

Timeline summary of major sections:

   * 1624: the original chateau
   * 1668-71: first enlargement by architect Louis Le Vau
   * 1678-82: addition of Galerie des Glaces and Salons of War and of Peace
   * 1679-82: addition of South wing (architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart)
   * 1684+: addition of North/Prince wing (Hardouin-Mansart)
   * 1698-1708: addition of chapel (Hardouin-Mansart)

The Palace and Park of Versailles were added in 1979 to the UNESCO's list of
the World Heritage Sites.
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