Palace of Versailles, France

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Louis XIII built a hunting lodge at the village of Versailles outside of Paris in 1624. The small structure became the base on which was constructed one of the most costly and extravagant buildings in the world. It became the palace of Louis XIV, the “Sun King”, who boasted of himself, “L’Etat c’est moi” or “I am the state.”

About 37,000 acres of land were cleared to make room for tree-lined terraces, walkways, and thousands of flowering plants. There were 1,400 fountains and 400 pieces of sculpture. In 1676 the palace was enlarged and redesigned. A second story, the magnificent Hall of Mirrors and the north and south wings were built.

The Palace boasts around 2,143 windows, 1,252 fireplaces, and 67 staircases. The Hall of Mirrors contains 357 mirrors in total, reflecting the grand gardens through the arched windows. Stunning Chapel of Versailles, The Grand Apartment or The Apartment of the Planets and Opera auditorium are the major highlights.

UNESCO designated the palace and its gardens a World Heritage site in 1979 and is one of the major tourist attractions in France.

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