Located south-west of Paris, Versailles is regarded as the quintessence and the architectural symbol of the Age of Absolutism. Most European cities traced their origins to the Middle Ages. They had grown slowly and with little planning. The 17th and 18th centuries witnessed a boom in the founding of new cities, which had two things in common. They were established on the initiative of a ruler, and the ruler's residence was set in the centre of a carefully planned settlement. The trend was initiated by the French city of Versailles, and the model was imitated elsewhere, as in Ludwigsburg in Germany (from 1704). Founded in 1792, the new U.S. capital of Washington, with its diagonal avenues, visual axes and central squares, was also full of elements that embodied the philosophy of absolutist urban architecture.
Building history and structure The germinal cell of Versailles was a palace built by order of King Louis XIII in the midst of a largely undeveloped landscape beginning in 1623. The palace was later renovated, and his son, the "Sun King" Louis XIV, initiated new construction in 1661. The project took on a completely new dimension in 1677, when the king declared Versailles his residence and the seat of government. Within a very few years, a splendid palatial complex emerged, to which King Louis XIV moved with his court in 1682. The expansive royal stables were built to the east of the palace to accommodate the many horses and carriages. The palace kitchen and living quarters for some 1,000 servants were located in a separate tract of buildings. A