Versailles: Fit for a King?
Louis XIV of France considered himself a glorious king, so he
decreed that a glorious palace be built at Versailles, 11 miles
southwest of Paris. And while many people consider that he
succeeded in his effort, others have said the palace was a
The beautiful 1,300-room building is more than a quarter of a
mile long, with paintings and sculptures by major European
artists, all set in a 250-acre garden-park with pools and
plantings and fountains laid out in geometric patterns.
It is built in the Baroque style, which emphasized very free
interpretations of classic forms. Baroque buildings were
frequently large, loud structures with gaudy decoration.
Work began on the palace in 1624 under the direction of the
French architect Louis Le Van. Forty years later it was finished.
Beautiful though it was, the palace was noted for lacking such
basic plumbing as toilet and bathing facilities, and for being very
badly designed. The kitchen was so far from the dining room
that the king's meals often arrived cold.
During the French Revolution in the late 1700s, this symbol of
opulence was invaded by mobs, who destroyed or removed
many of the art treasures. But at the beginning of the 1900s, the
French government began restoring the palace.
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