The Palace of Versailles, or Chateau de Versailles, is a royal palace located in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. Many years ago Versailles was a country village but now, located on the south-west from Paris, it is considered to be one of the Paris wealthiest suburbs.
The palace and its neighboring gardens were built by King Louis XIV. They were constructed in the four consecutive phases spanning over the period between 1664 and 1710. Nowadays the palace is fairly considered to be an utmost masterpiece of the French Baroque architecture. Many years serving as the house of the royal family of Bourbon, today it is considered to be a glorious symbol of splendor and the absolute monarchy.
Some of the most renowned chambers of Versailles include grands apartments (or state apartments), apartment du roi (or king’s apartments), galerie des glaces (or hall of mirrors), royal opera, petit appartement de la reine (queen’s private apartment) and petit appartement du roi (king’s private apartment). State apartments occupy the utmost east and the utmost west wings of the palace and in the past they served as the sleeping chambers of the king and of the queen, respectively. Both the queen’s and the king’s state apartments consist of an enfilade of seven rooms, each dedicated to a particular Roman deity. If I had to chance where to live within the palace, I would definitely pick state apartments as a place of permanent housing because of their spaciousness and magnificence.
Nonetheless, state apartments are not the only interior boasting with luxury. For example, the king’s apartment was a private quarter of the King Louis XIV himself. It is decorated with some of the great battle paintings of the era such as “Alexander the Great defeats Darius at the battle of Arabel” and “Cavalrymen quenching their thirst after a battle” by Joseph Parrocel.
On the other hand, the hall of mirrors is the most famous part of the palace which embraces seventeen mirror-clad arches with the seventeen arcaded windows that oversee the Versailles gardens. It has inspired a myriad of copies all throughout the world.
The Palace of Versailles is also a home to Museum of the History of France, located on the first floor of the palace. It is intended to glorify French militarism accommodating such paintings as “Battle of Wagram” by Horace Vernet and “Battle of the Dunes” by Charles-Philippe Larivière.
Finally, the Gardens of Versailles on the west from the palace is one of the most visited tourist attractions in France. To serve ceremonial and aesthetical needs of the royal family, it is filled with the superb examples of wonderful sculpture and items of the landscape design.
In conclusion, Versailles is an example of how sophisticated taste of the aristocracy can be combined with the royal expenses. Visiting it and seeing how the monarch family spent their daily lives in the environment of luxurious beauty is an absolute must for any visitor of any age.
Located on the west from Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most important cultural, artistic and historic monuments of Austria. The name of the palace, Schönbrunn, which can be translated into English as “the beautiful spring”, is derived from the name of the artesian well that was used to supply drinking water to the court.
The construction of the palace dates back to the Middle Ages when Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II bought the sizeable piece of land on the bank of the Wien river in 1569. After years of expansions, reconstructions, redecorations and refurbishments, the palace in its modern look encompasses 1,441 rooms most of which are open for visitors. For many centuries being in the property of the Habsburg family, the ownership rights on the palace have finally passed to the Republic of Austria in 1918 when the monarchy has been defeated once and for all. Nowadays the palace is the most celebrated tourist destination of Austria and the World Cultural Heritage site actively attended by thousands of visitors annually.
The palace is performed in the mixture of baroque and rococo styles. The interior of the Great Gallery, decorated with the Italian frescos, reflects the monarch prosperity under Maria Theresa. The imperial splendor of the palace is best reflected in a number of chambers such as White and Gold Room, Stallions Room, Walnut Room, Yellow Salon, and Mirror Room. A particular interest deserves the Chinese Cabinets decorated in the East Asian style with its white-painted wooden paneling, blue and white porcelain in the gilt frames, parquet flooring and the chandeliers.
My favorite place in the palace is its garden, the Great Parterre. “Extending for 1.2 km from east to west and approximately one kilometer from north to south, it was placed together with the palace on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1996” (Schönbrunn Palace 2016). Designed under the supervision of Johann Wilhelm Beyer, a German artist and garden designer, it contains dozens of sculptures representing virtues and deities within its perimeter. The Neptune Fountain standing at the Gloriette hill is considered to be the garden’s crowning element designed by Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg. It represents the sea-god Neptune and sea-goddess Thetis atop of the grotto surrounded by their entourage, nymphs, tritons and sea-horses. The sculpture of Neptune intends to characterize the same thing as the palace – the firm power of the monarchy and its absolute control over the fate of the people.
The Winter Palace, beautifully executed in the mixture of baroque and rococo styles, is located in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Formerly an official residence of the Russian monarchs, it was the home to the royal Romanov dynasty for a long time beginning with the Catherine the Great.
In 1708, the palace was begun from the wooden house executed in the Dutch style by Peter the Great and his relatives. Nonetheless, it was not until 1735, when Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the celebrated court architect of the Russian royal family, finished the construction of the palace on the site of the Peter’s house. The most of the palace’s modern look was acquired over the period from 1735 to 1837 when it was continuously refurbished and reconstructed for the slightest needs of the ruling monarchs. Today it serves as an emblem of the might of the Imperial Russia.
The palace is accommodated into the renowned Hermitage complex, ranked alongside the principal museums of the Western civilization such as Louver in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery and the British Museum in London and Prado in Madrid. The State Hermitage Museum is the Russia’s oldest and largest museum which encompasses over three million pieces of art including the Winter Palace, which itself stores valuable masterpieces of the classic and contemporary art.
The richness and splendor of the palace is incorporated in the Great Throne Room and the Emblem Hall, all decorated with marble, gilded bronze, ceiling paintings, wood carvings, massive mirrors and sculptures. The sensation of the historic presence is felt all throughout the tour over the palace’s halls and corridors. It is an essential viewing for all the visitors incoming to St. Petersburg.
- Schönbrunn Palace. (2016). Gardens. Available at http://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/things-to-know/gardens.html