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Palace of Versailles

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The history...

The Palace of Versailles is located about 12 miles away from Paris, France, in Versailles. This palace was the home of the Kings and Queens of France from 1682 until the start of the French Revolution in 1789. Before the grand palace was constructed there, King Louis XIII had built a more modest hunting lodge. It was while King Louis XIII was staying at his hunting lodge that the Day of the Dupes took place, where his own mother conspired to overthrow the government and take control. It was after the Day of the Dupes that King Louis XIII decided to tear down the hunting lodge and build a grand palace. Over many years the grounds and house expanded until the structure became what it is today - more than 720,000 square feet.

It wasn’t until Louis XIV that the palace started to grow into the massive building it is today. King Louis XIV invited many of the nobles and high-ranking French officials to stay with him in the Palace. Because of this, King Louis was able to maintain more control over the French government because all the noblemen were staying away from their own homes. The Palace of Versailles was extremely expensive to run, though. It was estimated by historians that the cost of maintaining the palace and to feed the staff and Royal Family took as much as 25% of the entire national income of France. High excess by the French crown would eventually lead to a revolution of the French people. In 1789, the King and Queen of France were forced to go back to Paris by the French people and the Palace was closed. A few years later, the new Convention Government declared that all royal property was to be sold at auction, and that included the furniture, art, equipment, and books. Even the fleurs-de-lys, the symbol of the French Monarchy, were ordered to be chiseled off the outside of the Palace.

The Palace of Versailles is today part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s list of World Heritage Sites. UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites help to preserve places of outstanding importance to the heritage of humankind as a whole. There are only 754 of them today.

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