The Palace of Versailles ( vair-SY, vur-SY; French: Château de Versailles [ʃɑto d(ə) vɛʁsɑj] (listen)) is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about 12 miles (19 km) west of Paris, France. The palace is owned by the French Republic and has since 1995 been managed, under the direction of the French Ministry of Culture, by the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles. 15,000,000 people visit the Palace, Park, or Gardens of Versailles every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. However, due to the COVID-19 virus, the number of paying visitors to the Chateau dropped by 75 percent from eight million in 2019 to two million in 2020. The drop was particularly sharp among foreign visitors, who account for eighty percent of paying visitors.Louis XIII built a simple hunting lodge on the site of the Palace of Versailles in 1623 and replaced it with a small château in 1631–34. Louis XIV expanded the château into a palace in several phases from 1661 to 1715. It was a favorite residence for both kings, and in 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of his court and government to Versailles, making the palace the de facto capital of France. This state of affairs was continued by Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI, who primarily made interior alterations to the palace, but in 1789 the royal family and capital of France returned to Paris. For the rest of the French Revolution, the Palace of Versailles was largely abandoned and emptied of its contents, and the population of the surrounding city plummeted.
Napoleon Bonaparte, following his takeover of France, used Versailles as a summer residence from 1810 to 1814, but did not restore it. When the French Monarchy was restored, it remained in Paris and it was not until the 1830s that meaningful repairs were made to the palace. A museum of French history was installed within it, replacing the apartments of the southern wing.
The palace and park were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 for its importance as the center of power, art, and science in France during the 17th and 18th centuries. The French Ministry of Culture has placed the palace, its gardens, and some of its subsidiary structures on its list of culturally significant monuments.
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