The Surprising Amount Of Money It Really Cost To Build The Palace Of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is one of the most stunning and utterly, ridiculously extravagant buildings on the planet. The remarkable palace is a major tourist attraction and a zealously protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, found in Île-de-France, just outside of Paris. Its luxe and heavily embellished interiors would go on to serve as gilt-laden inspiration for royal households to come — though few royal palaces in history could possibly hope to match it. Fewer still could even fathom, much less approach, the amount of money this decadent building cost to construct.

As Britannica reports, the building on this site first served as a lodge and private getaway for Louis XIII, until 1624. That year, the king charged famed architect Jacques Lemercier with building something a little more grand on the site. Louis XIV came to the throne in 1648 and, being the tremendous spender and relentlessly egotistical ruler he was, the Sun King set about designing a building that truly was unlike any other on Earth. With a price tag to match, naturally.

The Sun King's crowning glory

As History explains, Louis dedicated much of his life to developing his peerless palace, which would become his official royal residence in May, 1682. Its features included a staggering 2,000 or so rooms, the famously ornate gardens, a private zoo, and even a very early form of elevators — not to mention the iconic Hall of Mirrors and countless other wonders.

At a time when class differences were an incredible sticking point in the country (one factor that would spark the French Revolution) and people were starving, this may not have been the most citizenry-friendly project. Still, the sun shone from the Sun King’s every orifice (or so he believed), and he wanted to be sure everyone knew it. As reported by History Extra, his advisors tried to reduce costs by using locally sourced materials, but Louis’ ego could not be tamed. In 1994, PBS estimated that the total cost of the project could have ranged anywhere from $2-300 billion today!

What did that potential $300 billion buy the people of France? Over the years, Versailles has served as everything from a luxurious destination for the well-to-do to gamble and temporary accommodation for visiting VIPs from other nations to a target of bitter revolutionaries. Today, it’s an incredibly popular tourist destination, and inspiration for super, super-rich homeowners everywhere.

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