Royal gate returns to Versailles in France
Replicas of the 80-metre steel gate stand at the entrance to Versailles after more three hundred years.1 July 2008
VERSAILLES - More than three centuries after it was torn down during the French Revolution, the royal gate once again graces the entrance to Versailles, the centre of power under Louis XIV.
Replicas of the 80-metre steel gate decorated with 100,000 gold leaves were unveiled on Monday after two years of painstaking work to recreate the Baroque-style piece by Jules Hardouin-Mansart.
The royal gate that once again stands at the entrance of Versailles' cour d'honneur "provides an essential element of Versailles' historical identity," said Jean-Jacques Aillagon, president of the palace monument.
One of France's most visited tourist sites, the Chateau de Versailles west of Paris has been undergoing renovation work since 2003 when the government launched the "Grand Versailles" project that is slated to last 17 years.
Private donors contributed EUR 5 million to rebuild the gates and legions of top craftsmen and history experts were called in to ensure exact replicas would be produced.
A new visitors' centre is also under construction at Versailles to improve tourist access to the ornate palace and majestic gardens.
[AFP / Expatica]
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