| Great Wonder introduced in Civilization IV|
Only available in Industrial and earlier starts.
|800 (Double production speed with Marble)|
|Great People points||2 Great Merchant|
The Palace of Versailles began life as a hunting lodge constructed at the instructions of King Louis XIII, who enjoyed hunting in the nearby woods. In 1660, his son Louis XIV decided to turn the "chateau" into a palace. Louis XIV took up residence in 1682, and construction on the palace was completed in 1688. During Louis' lifetime this huge, ungainly, and ornate building was not only his residence, but it also housed the royal court and central bureaucracy of France. Versailles is a complex of richly appointed buildings centered in one-and-a-half square miles of fine parkland. It is surrounded by beautiful fountains, statues, and magnificent formal gardens.
At the very center of the palace was, of course, Louis' bedroom, a massive and ostentatious room. At the center of the bedroom was the Royal Bed, which was surrounded by a railing, suggesting that the king did indeed hold large audiences while reclining in the bed and needed a way to keep the visitors' fingers from messing up the royal linens.
The Hall of Mirrors is another impressive room in Versailles. Over 200 feet in length and 30 feet wide, the hall contains 578 mirrors and 17 ornate windows. On the ceiling Louis had painted 30 pictures showing his many triumphs and the benefits of his rule.
While appearing to many a massive exercise in royal excess, Louis had good reason for constructing Versailles with one stroke he removed the nobility and bureaucracy from the intrigues of Paris and made them more immediately responsible to him. In this way he was able to render the once powerful nobility largely impotent great families which had once battled each other for the throne of France now found themselves instead intriguing for the privilege of attending Louis' bath.
Nonetheless, Versailles was, in fact, an extraordinarily expensive building. It has been estimated that maintaining the palace and its noble denizens consumed 6% of the entire French national budget. For a comparison, the United States' President's 2006 budget estimates that the US will take in about 2.2 trillion dollars in revenue in 2006. Six percent of that amount is 132 billion dollars.
After the French Revolution and the dissolution of the monarchy, Versailles fell into disrepair and disuse. The German Army made the complex its headquarters after defeating France in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. The building remained in decay until the 1960s, when Pierre Verlet conceived the bold idea of refurbishing Versailles to its glory days under Louis XIV. Since then the curators have managed to retrieve many of the original furnishings from across Europe.