Versailles was home not only to the French king, but also to his family and many aristocrats.
On this day in 1682 King Louis XIV transferred the French court from Paris to Versailles. This was the final and official transfer, which came about after Louis XIV had spent years transferring more and more court functions to the Palace of Versailles. The Palace remained the official seat of the French court all the way until 1789, i.e. until the time of the French Revolution, during which Louis XIV’s great-great-grandson Louis XVI was guillotined.
Louis XIV began expanding Versailles back in 1664, when he was 25 years old. Versailles was originally a small hunting lodge, which Louis XIV had inherited from his father Louis XIII (of “The Three Musketeers” fame). In time Louis XIV made such extensive improvements to Versailles that it became one of the largest royal palaces in the world.
When the official transfer of the court was concluded, Louis XIV was 43 years old. Versailles remained his residence until his death 33 years later. It was home not only to the French king, but also to his family and many aristocrats. The main facade of the palace today is some 580 meters long and surrounded by a huge park. Its size and extravagance epitomize the time of the so-called Ancien Régime and serve as a reminder of the time of Louis XIV, also called “The Sun King”, when France was the leading power in Europe.