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Versailles is a sweeping architectural wonder, a beauty that justifies the numerous aerial view paintings and photographs sold in the city’s myriad gift shops. The gorgeous and innovative construction and design radiate out from the Sun King’s former home and infuses the rest of the town, as much of the original buildings from the period of Louis XIV located beyond the chateau grounds still exist today.
Jules Hardouin-Mansart is the architect responsible for many of the architectural gems still extant, including the royal church of Notre-Dame (not to be confused with the cathedral of Hugo fame in Paris) as well as much of the current form of the palace itself.
Construction in Versailles the town did not stop innovating and growing after the setting of the Sun King. The Sun King’s great-grandson, Louis XV, oversaw the building of the Hotel du Bailliage and the Hotel de la Geole in the current Norte-Dame neighborhood, which served as court and jail, respectively. The erection of the Church of Saint-Louis was overseen by J. Mansart de Sagonne during this time, and it went on to become the neighborhood’s dominant building, inspiring in its height, sleekness, and Italian attention to detail. Louis XV also commissioned J. B. Berthier to put out a Hotel de la Guerre and a Hotel des Affaires (a War Office and a Foreign Affairs office).
Post-revolutionary Versailles brought about industrial age architecture that can still be seen in the metal and glass of the Rive Gauche and the Chantiers station. Today the city is a blend of the very old and the not so old, its buildings a visual component of Versailles’s tourist economy.