The Palace of Versailles is considered as an astonishing example of the Baroque architecture. Furthermore, the Palace of Versailles is referred to as a symbol of absolute monarchy that existed in France at the 17th to the middle of the 18th century. In France, Versailles is the most outstanding and popular royal palace. The Palace is situated almost 10 miles southwest of Paris.
The Palace of Versailles has produced a considerable effect on the artistic image of many various palaces all over the Europe. The Hall of Mirrors is valued for its unique architectural designs. It is regarded as one of the world’s most famous rooms. The decoration and design of Versailles resulted in the phenomenon of renaissance of decorative art and interior designs. It took place in the 17th and the 18th centuries. Therefore, the palace of Versailles is an important building to France, because it is a connection between culture and politics, and it has witnessed the development of the whole society.
The history of the Palace
Versailles is not an ancient monument. It was built at the end of the 17th century. Initially, the palace was intended to become the political center of the monarchy. Spawforth claims that “King Louis XIV had the purpose to control the royalty and have a rest from the capital life” (p.51). Therefore, the king ordered to build the palace that would be his headquarter and the seat of the French government.
In the beginning, Versailles was not planned to be the home of the king. However, this changed when Louis XIV died and King Louis XV started hid reigning. According to Adcock “Louis XV treated himself as the second after God and the most powerful monarch in the history.” (p.68). In 1722 he moved to Versailles and spent the rest of his life in the palace.
Thus, until the Revolution of the 1789, the monument was the official residence of the king and his family. In the course of the Revolution, “most of the expensive paintings and furniture was taken to Louvre” (Spawforth, p. 63). At the time of the Paris Commune, the national government had seat at the palace. The parliament used to hold meetings in the Opera building of Louis XV. Between the First and the Second World War the authorities conducted the restor4ation of the palace.
Versailles as a Political Place
The palace of Versailles used to perform the role of the major Palace of King Louis XIV. The historians call this personality as the Sun King. As a result, the Versailles revealed the absolute power of the King. In the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries, the palace was the venue for a wide range of conferences, meeting, ceremonies that had the most significant role for the country. The adoption of the Treaty of Versailles is regarded as the most notable politic event related to the palace.
The court at the times of Louis XIV consisted of more than three thousand residents. Except the king and queen, the court also included all members of the royal family, aristocrats, the ministers of the government, and civil servants. Adcock asserts that “such a large amount of people needed the building of large size” (63). As a result, “the palace included a number of similar suites of apartments and rooms for other purposes” (Lecron, 15). They functioned as the places for the public and private use of the leading authorities of the monarchy.
Furthermore, the other European courts began to adopt the unique architecture of the palace of Versailles. Besides the architecture, they also adopted most of the features of the king court. In such a simple way, respect for and popularity of French culture became widespread around the whole Europe.
Starting from the times of the King Louis XIV until now, the pearl of French culture attracts a large number of people from all corners of the world. According to the recent data, the palace is currently open for three million tourists and native visitors annually. And the grounds are the destination for more than six million tourists.
The Structure of Versailles
The complex monument of Versailles bears most essential attributes of the baroque style. However, the palace also contains the qualities of the past art epochs. The genesis of the values of different art styles contributes considerably to the popularity and importance of Versailles’s complex. The most outstanding parts of the palace are the following.
The Hall of Mirrors is considered as the most famous contribution of Louis XIV to Versailles. Its major attribute is “the seventeen mirrored arches, which represent the seventeen arcaded windows (Hartnoll & Found, p. 84). They overlook the palace’s amazing garden. The Apartment of the Planets initially was the apartment of King Louis XIV. It consists of seven salons that display a painting of a single planet. The entire apartment together with its salons is really a magnificent view.
The Royal Opera is referred to as one of the theatres with the best acoustic effect. This theatre’s interior is made completely of wood that explains the unique acoustic effect. Gold, pink, and green dominate the decor for the Opera (Spawforth p. 108). The Opera seats more than 700 viewers and is famous for an original mechanical system raising the floor to the height of the stage.
The chapel of Versailles represents a “tribune” on the royal apartments’ level. The architecture of it is “a combination of Gothic and Baroque Culture” (Hartnoll & Found p. 96). A few attributes correspond to medieval past, e. g. its pointed roof. However, the other qualities (columns, carved pillar) belong to the current style in which the palace was created.
The Cultural Influence of the Palace
Being the most outstanding palace in the whole world, Versailles is viewed as an unsurpassed masterpiece of French Baroque architecture. Thus, Herbert concludes that the palace “like a mirror embodies the various stages of the history of the country and its society” (p. 29). However, a special attention is devoted to the continuous process of the establishment and development of the state. The European leaders of the time tended to interpret Versailles as an apparent evidence of the power of the king Louis XIV. Therefore, they created their own palaces according to the same model. As a result, the palace of Versailles served as an essential model for a wide range of the royal palaces in Europe.
The Unique Architectural Features of Versailles
The palace of Versailles was created taking into account the most important features and principles of the Baroque style. Sherwood argues that the immense building of Versailles “represents the architectural theme of “creation by division” (p.107). It includes a number of “simple repetitions carried out with the help of the repetition of high windows” (Sherwood, p. 107). This principle presents the basic values of Baroque art. According to this factor, the key place of the interior of the whole palace was considered the king’s bed.
One should point out that many additional buildings also belong to the palace. All of them combined create a small town. This kind of genesis is also peculiar for the Baroque culture. The exterior of the garden is half mile long. The park counts a few miles in length and breadth. The French architect Le Notre succeeded to make perfect use of the natural resources that existed in the place. While creating the park, the architect showed his professional skills and talent in architecture in the best way. Thus, the magnificent monument of Versailles impresses largely both the tourists and the citizens of France.
The Historic Value of the Palace
The Palace of Versailles is referred to as a symbol of absolute monarchy that existed in France at the end of the 17th century and in the 18th century. Thus, it also represents the detailed picture of court life of the country. The most valid evidence of the historical importance of the palace of Versailles is the fact that Versailles was a model for the other European countries. Thus, it made possible for King Louis XV to increase considerably the influence of France on European culture of that time.
As a result, French culture became popular with the European leaders, who tried to adopt every attribute connected with French culture. Furthermore, the palace witnessed a wide range of historic events that influenced the development of the countries’ society. Among them the most important are the French Revolution, the Paris Commune, the Napoleon’s leadership and the two World Wars. The treaty of Versailles was sighed in the palace in 1919. It was a significant political and historical event that marked the end of the First World War. The Treaty initiated the establishment of the League of Nations.
Therefore, the palace of Versailles is one of the most significant masterpieces for the French state. It is valued not only for its unique aesthetic attributes but also for its political importance. The culture and politics of the country are inextricably intertwined in this monument. Moreover, the palace represents the main stages of the development of the French society. Thus, Versailles is really respected and beloved by all French citizens and foreign tourists. Furthermore, the Palace of Versailles is referred to as a symbol of absolute monarchy that existed in France at the end of the 16th century and in the 17th century.
To recap, the Palace of Versailles is regarded as the main building of a complex monument of the French royalty at the time of the kings Louis XIV, XV and XVI. It changed into a permanent royal residence after the French Revolution that took place in 1789. The architecture of the palace has largely influenced many other European cultures. Being located 10 miles southwest of the capital, the palace has become its core and the most notable landmark. It is the destination for several millions of visitors every year.