A Look into Versailles: A World Heritage Site

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Versailles was the home to the kings of France and the French monarchy from Louis XIV to Louis XVI as well as Napoleon Bonaparte. The Palace and Park of Versailles were built by several generations of architects, sculptors, painters, ornamentalists, and landscape artists to represent the perfect model of a royal residence. 


What once was the seat of power for France is now a museum and showcases the history of the country. The palace contains a hall of mirrors which was built to replace the terrace designed by Louis Le Vau. The hall of mirrors pays tribute to France’s political, economic, artistic success through 30 painted compositions on the vaulted ceiling. Next to the hall of mirrors is the king and queen’s respective suites. Since there was no social media or email, it was important that the sovereigns were close to the activity, so they could hear what was happening in their monarchy.


The gardens of Versailles are just as important as the palace. In 1661, Louis XIV entrusted André Le Nôtre with the creation and renovation of the gardens. The gardens contain many fountains, four each separately placed at the crossroads of the principal alleys in the garden as well as parterres and the groves. 

The French Revolution ended the monarchy which in turn led to the end of Versailles having inhabitants. Many pieces of furniture and art were destroyed in the revolution, but even before then, there was no standing furniture. This was because the courts would travel from their winter corridors to Versailles for the summer and bring the furniture. After the revolution, Versailles fell apart and underwent much construction. With the help of the Americans such as the Rockefellers, Versailles was able to get up and running again. 

Versailles became a World Heritage Site in 1979, three years after UNESCO started in 1976. Along with Versailles, Independence Hall in Philadelphia was also named a World Heritage Site in 1979. To become a World Heritage Site, there is a list of 10 to 12 criteria needed to be met along with a proposal submitted to the committee. However, in 1979, that was not the case. 

The way World Heritage sites are chosen has evolved from the initial start of the organization to the recent additions from the 2021 meeting. UNESCO is now looking for multi-city sites to add to the list like spa cities in Europe. Many Arabian cities have been added over the years to reflect the diversity of World Heritage. 

Versailles is open to the public again and makes for a great spring or summer day activity. There is a lot of walking required, so come prepared with walking shoes. If you wish to spend the night, you can now do so. The palace was remodeled and a hotel was added. If you cannot make the trip to France, but want to walk around luxurious gardens, then LongwoodGardenss in Kennett Square, PA is the place to check out.



Arts and Culture
History and Preservation
World Heritage
Global region
North America