Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles (French: Château de Versailles), or simply Versailles (English: vair-SY or vər-SY; French: [vɛʁsaj]), is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. It is now open as a museum and is a very popular tourist attraction. When the château was built, the community of Versailles was a small village dating from the 11th century. Today, however, it is a wealthy suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres (12 mi) southwest of the centre of the French capital. Versailles was the seat of political power in the Kingdom of France from 1682, when King Louis XIV moved the royal court from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789, within three months after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime. Especially under Louis XIV, the senior nobility were pressured to spend large amounts of time at Versailles, as a form of political control. Louis XIV evolved a rigid routine of court life as a performance, much of which took place in front of large groups of people, at some points in the day including tourists. Building the château and maintaining the court there was phenomenally expensive, but did a good deal to establish the dominance of French style and taste in the whole of Europe, giving French luxury manufacturing advantages that long outlasted the fall of the Ancien Régime. Louis XIV's expansion of the building was begun around 1661, with Louis Le Vau as architect.
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