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Ezekiel Taylor
Ezekiel Taylor

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These two small palaces, whose architectural style was neither distinctive nor particularly fashionable, were royal residences of leisure. Despite this seemingly humble role, it was here that the Day of the Dupes, a major event in the history of the French crown, culminated in November 1630. The king rarely invited guests here and, although the second palace contained apartments for the queen, Anne of Austria never slept in theme because her husband, the king, always ensured she had transport back to Saint-Germain or Paris... Besides the pleasures of hunting, Versailles also constituted a location to retreat to, where the king would come in search of solitude, notably after his relationship with his platonic mistress, Mlle de La Fayette, ended in 1637.

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The residence gradually went from being a hunting lodge to a residence for leisure that saw grand parties and entertainment held in the gardens (such as the ones in 1664, 1668 and 1674). From 1682 it became the main residence of the French Court and government. Louis XIV moved not only the aristocracy to Versailles, but also the main body of administration. Here, he was primus inter pares amongst the prominent figures of the time, who would spend fortunes on any chance to maintain their position, and who could manage all his policies. King Louis XIV, who loved the outdoors and open spaces, saw much to benefit from in carrying out construction work here and made his palace an expression of power and authority, knowing that glory was conveyed not only by war but also by buildings. The location played host to prestigious ceremonies, such as the reception of grand ambassadors in the Hall of Mirrors, the Doge of Genoa in 1685, the ambassadors of Siam in 1686, and the embassy of Persia in 1715. Likewise, it was in Versailles in November 1700 where he accepted the will of Charles II of Spain, which named his second grandson as king of Spain.

When Louis XIV died his palace and estate were far from finished. Nevertheless, over 50 years and after nearly 100 million Livres, he had laid all the foundations, and it was now up to his successors to improve, modify and bring them into line with modern tastes.

Following the death of Louis XIV in September 1715, the court abandoned Versailles for Vincennes and transplanted itself briefly to Paris the following December. Versailles entered a long period of neglect. The Governor of the estate ensured that the Grandes Eaux Fountain Display was activated every fortnight to keep it in working order. The Palace was merely a source of curiosity, and Tsar Peter the Great visited twice between May and June 1717. It was not until 15 June 1722 that, at his own request, the young Louis XV returned to Versailles. His first concern was to complete the work of his great-grandfather, but he also set out to create more intimate and private spaces in which to perfect his knowledge. His timidity led him to increase the number of small chambers in which he felt more at ease than in the grand public spaces created by Louis XIV. Although respectful of the place, Louis XV did not live exclusively in Versailles but often resided at Fontainebleau, Marly and Compiègne, as well as in palaces further away from the seat of power, such as Choisy, La Muette, Saint-Hubert and Bellevue.

Although the furniture and many of the works of art had been removed, the palace continued to be an attraction, with guided tours still being organised. In any case, it was not totally deserted because in 1793 it was designated as a Public Repository, i.e. a place for storing and sorting all items confiscated in the Department of Seine et Oise, whether from migrants, convicts or religious institutions. It was on the basis of these seizures and whatever had not yet left the palace that the project was launched in 1794 to establish a museum, which, after a somewhat chaotic installation period, opened in 1796.

The Forbidden City (Chinese: 紫禁城; pinyin: Zǐjìnchéng) is a palace complex in Dongcheng District, Beijing, China, at the center of the Imperial City of Beijing. It is surrounded by numerous opulent imperial gardens and temples including the 22 ha (54-acre) Zhongshan Park, the sacrificial Imperial Ancestral Temple, the 69 ha (171-acre) Beihai Park, and the 23 ha (57-acre) Jingshan Park.[2] It is officially administered by the Palace Museum.

The Forbidden City was constructed from 1406 to 1420, and was the former Chinese imperial palace and winter residence of the Emperor of China from the Ming dynasty (since the Yongle Emperor) to the end of the Qing dynasty, between 1420 and 1924. The Forbidden City served as the home of Chinese emperors and their households and was the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for over 500 years. Since 1925, the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artifacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.[3]

The complex consists of 980 buildings,[4] encompassing 9,999 rooms and covering 720,000 m2 (72 ha)/178 acres.[5][6] The palace exemplifies the opulence of the residences of the Chinese emperor and the traditional Chinese palatial architecture,[3] and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. It is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. Since 2012, the Forbidden City has seen an average of 14 million visitors annually, and received more than 19 million visitors in 2019.[7] In 2018, the Forbidden City's market value was estimated at 70 billion USD, making it both the world's most valuable palace and the most valuable piece of real estate anywhere in the world.[8]

By October, the Manchus had achieved supremacy in northern China, and a ceremony was held at the Forbidden City to proclaim the young Shunzhi Emperor as ruler of all China under the Qing dynasty.[18]The Qing rulers changed the names on some of the principal buildings, to emphasise "Harmony" rather than "Supremacy",[19] made the name plates bilingual (Chinese and Manchu),[20] and introduced Shamanist elements to the palace.[21]

In the early 21st century, the Palace Museum carried out a sixteen-year restoration project to repair and restore all buildings in the Forbidden City to their pre-1912 state, with the goal that 76% of the palace would be open to the public by 2020.[32] As a result of that project, the Shoukang Palace was officially opened to the public in 2013, after initially being displayed in its original state. A sculpture museum was opened in the Cining Palace in 2015. Also opened in 2015 were the precincts around Cining Palace, the Yanyin Building and the East Glorious (Donghua) Gate.[33]

The Forbidden City is surrounded by a 7.9 m (26 ft) high city wall[19] and a 6 m (20 ft) deep by 52 m (171 ft) wide moat. The walls are 8.62 m (28.3 ft) wide at the base, tapering to 6.66 m (21.9 ft) at the top.[41] These walls served as both defensive walls and retaining walls for the palace. They were constructed with a rammed earth core, and surfaced with three layers of specially baked bricks on both sides, with the interstices filled with mortar.[42]

At the four corners of the wall sit towers (E) with intricate roofs boasting 72 ridges, reproducing the Pavilion of Prince Teng and the Yellow Crane Pavilion as they appeared in Song dynasty paintings.[42] These towers are the most visible parts of the palace to commoners outside the walls, and much folklore is attached to them. According to one legend, artisans could not put a corner tower back together after it was dismantled for renovations in the early Qing dynasty, and it was only rebuilt after the intervention of carpenter-immortal Lu Ban.[19]

Entering from the Meridian Gate, one encounters a large square, pierced by the meandering Inner Golden Water River, which is crossed by five bridges. Beyond the square stands the Gate of Supreme Harmony (F). Behind that is the Hall of Supreme Harmony Square.[46] A three-tiered white marble terrace rises from this square. Three halls stand on top of this terrace, the focus of the palace complex. From the south, these are the Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿), the Hall of Central Harmony (中和殿), and the Hall of Preserving Harmony (保和殿).[47]

Directly to the west is the Hall of Mental Cultivation (N). Originally a minor palace, this became the de facto residence and office of the Emperor starting from Yongzheng. In the last decades of the Qing dynasty, empresses dowager, including Cixi, held court from the eastern partition of the hall. Located around the Hall of Mental Cultivation are the offices of the Grand Council and other key government bodies.[63]

To the west and to the east of the three main halls of the Inner Court are the Western Palaces (Xiliugong) and the Eastern Palaces (Dongliugong). These palaces were the residences of the imperial consorts. Six Palaces lay to the West and six to the East of the three main halls, hence the name. The architecture of the 12 Palaces, connected by passageways, is more or less the same. The Western and Eastern Palaces each have a layout of three palaces on either side of an alley that runs from north to south. Every Palace has its own courtyards, main halls, and side-halls. The main halls stand in the middle and the side-halls are in the east and west. The front courtyard and its main hall was used for receptions, while the back courtyard and its main hall served as living quarters.

To the west of the Hall of Mental Cultivation (N) in the western area of the Inner Court is Cining Palace (Palace of Compassion and Tranquility) and Shoukang Palace (Palace of Longevity and Good Health). The palaces were the residences of widowed consorts of previous emperors. In accordance with feudal manners, emperors should not live with the wives of late emperors, so they lived in this separate area of the Inner Court. The Cining palace is bigger and older than Shoukang Palace which is located to the west of Cining Palace. To the south of Cining Palace is Cining garden.[67] 041b061a72


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