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According to Wikipedia, Empress Cixi embezzled 30 million taels of silver from the modernization of Qing Navy to build the Summer Palace. What is 30 million taels of silver equivalent to in modern USD? Was the Summer Palace funded entirely by navy funds, or did it cost even more?
With a little research: 1 Tael is equivalent with 37.5 or 33.9 or 37.8 g of silver, depends on region where it was issued.
The local tael also took precedence over any central measure, so the Canton tael weighed 37.5 grams, the Convention or Shanghai tael was 33.9 g (1.09 oz troy), and the Customs or Hǎiguān (海關) tael 37.8 g (defined as 11⁄3 oz avoirdupois, about 1.22 oz troy)
Let's do the math: 30 million of taels are between 1017000 and 1134000 kilograms of silver. The wikipedia doesn't say the purity, but I found an another source from JSTOR which declares it was pretty pure, between .944 to .989 so if we count with 96% of the silver value, it will be accurate. The final lower sum is: 690 USD x 1017000 = 701 million USD, the higher is 690 USD x 1134000 = 782 million USD.
It is a huge sum of money with physical value today.
Take a note: this estimation is roughly implemented into current currency system. The value itself depends on current price of silver, which worth less compared to gold today than it worth several hundred years ago, so the actual objective value can be different.
The origins of Beijing’s Forbidden City
Ten of the 14 years spent building the Forbidden City (1406-1420) were dedicated to planning the Yongle Emperor’s new home in painstaking detail. Among the many aspects which architects had to take into account were location, the orientation of the buildings, and how to source, prepare and transport the raw materials
SHAPES AND SYMBOLISM
The Forbidden City complex was the beating heart of Beijing. The rectangular walled palace was encircled by two square ring roads which defined, and protected, the ancient city. As Beijing expanded over the years, square ring roads radiated outwards from the Forbidden City. Even today, the seventh ring road - which links Hebei with Tianjin to form the megacity known as Jingjinji - retains the original square shape, with the palace at the centre
Traditionally, circles represent perfection because of the Chinese belief that no human could make a flawless circle by hand. In contrast, the straight lines of squares and rectangles are associated with law and order, according to Chinese convention. Cities and official complexes were subsequently planned as rectangles. Housing the head of state at the centre of a walled complex made it easier to protect him and, no doubt, provided his family with a sense of security and well-being
The orientation of the Forbidden City is centred along a north-south axis which is about one degree shy of the geographical north. Remarkably, this feat was achieved 150 years before Gerardus Mercator, a German-Flemish cartographer, introduced the first map to accurately project ratios of latitude and longitude. It remains the central axis of Beijing to this day
CHINESE PRAGMATIC MYSTICISM
Chinese culture sets great store by the mystical and spiritual, but frequently blurs the lines between metaphor and function. Feng shui is a case in point, as it seeks to balance and harmonise people and buildings with the surrounding environment
Those among the higher social echelons were housed in the far northern end of the complex, with the area to the south reserved for wives, sons and concubines. Servants were housed closer to the southern sector to receive visitors
The Hall of Supreme Harmony was at the heart of the complex, with the courts designed to symmetrically orbit the hall. All doors faced south so that visiting diplomats could be ushered straight to the Hall of Supreme Harmony
A total of 29,000 cubic metres (1 million square feet) of mud was excavated for the moat and used to build a protective hill. According to Feng shui principles, this hill - Jingshan Hill, also known as Prospect Hill - restored the balance between water and earth
The artificial hill behind the city reduced wind currents from the north and served as protection from attack
THE RISE OF THE PALACE
The Forbidden City is a rectangle with a total area of about 720,000 square metres (3.1 million square feet). The complex took just four years to build. A total of 100,000 artisans and one million labourers made this feat possible. Here are some key historical events
The Yongle Emperor, Zhu Di, becomes the third emperor of the Ming dynasty after overthrowing his nephew. He begins plans to build an imperial palace in his new capital, Beijing
Construction of the new palace is completed. It will serve as the home of emperors for almost 500 years
Three of the main halls in the outer court are burned down in a fire. Restoring the buildings takes 19 years
A fire burns down the three main halls in the outer court along with some small buildings and the Meridian Gate. The restoration takes four years
The six main halls of the palace are burnt down in a fire. The complete restoration takes 13 years
Li Zicheng, a Chinese rebel leader, captures the Imperial Palace. Li then flees from combined Ming and Manchu forces, setting fire to parts of the Forbidden City as he retreats. Restoration takes 14 years to complete
The Forbidden City is transformed into the Palace Museum. Just a few years later the curiosities and treasures are removed from the Palace Museum as China’s civil war and the war against Japan threatens their safety
After the war, the artefacts are moved back to Nanjing and Beijing, and the Palace Museum is reopened to the public. Restoration is placed on hold during the uncertainties of events such as the Cultural Revolution
A massive restoration of the Palace Museum is launched, and expected to last until 2021
The story of Kew Palace
Kew Palace is the smallest of all the royal palaces. It was originally built as a fashionable mansion for wealthy London silk merchant, Samuel Fortrey in 1631.
George II (r 1727-60) and Queen Caroline were first attracted to little Kew, thinking it a perfect lodging for their three eldest daughters. After them, several generations of Georgian royalty used Kew and nearby Richmond Lodge as weekend retreats from an intensely public life in town.
Kew reflects the intimate personal and domestic life of Georgian kings and queens for much of the 18th century. Today the interior of this tiny, atmospheric palace tells the powerful story of George III, his mental illness and the members of his family who lived and died there.
Intimate royal retreat
In the 1720s, the royal family, George II and Queen Caroline and their children arrived and took leases on the palace and several other houses in the near vicinity.
It was a place where they could be private, domestic, and live normal lives unencumbered by the trappings of ceremony and deference. The gardens were cultivated as an idyllic pleasure ground.
Later the house became a refuge for George III, when he fell ill and was thought to have become mad.
Even today, Kew’s scale and intimacy reflects a more humble and human picture of the British monarchy.
History of the Forbidden City
The third Ming emperor, Yongle, constructed the Forbidden City from 1406 to 1420, as he moved his capital from Nanjing to Beijing. Twenty-four successive Ming and Qing emperors ruled from the palace until 1911 when the Qing dynasty fell. Puyi, the last emperor, was allowed to live inside the inner court until his expulsion in 1924. A committee then took charge of the palace, and, after organizing over a million treasures, the committee opened the Palace Museum to the public on October 10, 1925.
10 More Top Great Wall Facts
The Great Wall at Jiankou
1. The Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space by the human eye without aid.
2. The Great Wall is not a continuous line: there are side walls, circular walls, parallel walls, and sections with no wall (high mountains or rivers form a barrier instead). In the Qin Dynasty (221—206 BC), glutinous rice flour was used to bind the Great Wall bricks.
3. The Great Wall labor force included soldiers, forcibly-recruited peasants, convicts, and POWs.
4. The First Emperor of Qin was not the first to build the Great Wall. He linked the northern walls of the states he conquered.
5. There most popular Great Wall legend is about Meng Jiangnv, whose husband died building the Wall. Her weeping was so bitter that a section of the Wall collapsed, revealing her husband's bones so she could bury them.
6. The Gubeikou Section of the Great Wall has bullet holes in it, evidence of the last battle fought at the Great Wall .
The Jiayuguan Fortress
7. During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), many Great Wall bricks were used in building homes, farms, or reservoirs.
8. The northwestern Great Wall sections (e.g. in Gansu and Ningxia provinces) are likely to disappear in 20 years, due to desertification and change in human land use.
9. The Jiankou Section of the Great Wall, known for being steep and winding, enjoys the most appearances on Great Wall picture books and post cards.
10. The most famous section of the Great Wall — Badaling — has been visited by over 300 heads of state and VIPs from around the world. The first of which was Soviet statesman Klim Voroshilov in 1957.
Eunuchs in Ancient China
Eunuchs were powerful political players in ancient Chinese government. Originating as trusted slaves in the royal household they were ambitious to use their favoured position to gain political power. Advising the emperor from within the palace and blocking the access of officials to their ruler, the eunuchs were eventually able to acquire noble titles themselves, form a bureaucracy to rival the state's and even select and remove emperors of their choosing. Their influence on government would result in the falling of dynasties and last right up to the 17th century CE.
From Slaves to Political Heavyweights
Eunuchs, or 'non-men' as they could be known, first appeared in the royal courts of ancient pre-imperial Chinese states where they were employed as servants in the inner chambers of the palace. They were more or less slaves and were usually acquired as children from border territories, especially those to the south. Castrated and brought to serve the royal household, they had no real means of altering their lives. Eunuchs were regarded as the most trustworthy of servants because they could neither seduce women of the household or father children which might form a dynasty to rival that of the sitting emperor's.
A eunuch's duties, therefore, included exclusively serving the women of the royal palace. Any other males were forbidden from staying overnight in the palace, and any person who entered unauthorised faced the death penalty. Eunuchs acted as fetchers and carriers, bodyguards, nurses, and essentially performed the roles of valets, butlers, maids, and cooks combined. Despite their privileged position, the general public's view of eunuchs was extremely negative as they were regarded as the lowest class of all servants.
In contrast to the confidence put in them by rulers, their physical deformity, disdain from the ruling class and the general stigma attached to them made eunuchs more likely to seek to exploit their privileged position and gain political influence within the court. The eunuchs would not be content with the life of a simple slave for very long. Often aligning themselves with the powerful Buddhist monasteries, they advised, spied, and intrigued in equal measure in order to acquire the top positions in the state apparatus.
Eunuchs, with their special access to the Inner Court (Neiting), where no ordinary officials were permitted, could be especially prominent when the ruler was not yet an adult and they fully exploited the possibility of not only filtering out communications from ministers to the emperor and vice versa but also appointments so that very often ministers simply could not gain an audience with their ruler. Eunuchs ingratiated themselves with the emperor and were perhaps more compliant than high-minded and more principled scholar-officials which made the emperor more likely to follow their advice.
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Another point in the eunuchs' favour was that they had known their emperor perhaps for all his life and that they were the only males the ruler ever met until adulthood. In addition, the emperor knew that the eunuchs did not have a power base or loyalties outside the court, unlike the politicians.
In the Han Dynasty
Very often the eunuchs encouraged and made worse political factions, which damaged the unity of the government. Eunuchs are charged with playing a major part in the fall of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE). During the 2nd century CE, in particular, a succession of weak emperors were easily manipulated by the eunuchs at court. In 124 CE they even put their own child candidate on the imperial throne. They gained more imperial favour and further entrenched their position in 159 CE by helping Emperor Huan settle a family succession dispute. In gratitude, the emperor awarded a noble title to five leading eunuchs.
The eunuchs' even greater power ultimately resulted in government officials and students banding together and staging protests in 166 and 168-169 CE. The eunuchs would not be put off so lightly though and they instigated a wave of purges which saw many of those involved in the protests imprisoned and 100 executed. The luckier officials, students, and intellectuals who had spoken out against eunuch power were merely excluded from ever holding public office. In 189 CE events took an even more brutal turn. The eunuchs murdered the 'Grand General' He Jin after it was discovered he had plotted to assemble an army to himself purge the eunuchs. The general's followers exacted immediate revenge by killing all the eunuchs in the palace. With this power vacuum there then ensued a civil war for control of the empire, with the result that the Han fell and the Wei dynasty was established in 220 CE.
In the Tang Dynasty
In the troubled final years of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) the eunuchs once again played a prominent role, this time in the downfall of emperors. Following rebellions in the provinces by renegade military commanders, the imperial court was eager to strengthen its position and so created a new palace army in the mid-8th century CE. The eunuchs were put in charge of this new force and soon began to create problems of their own for the emperor. Just as in previous eras, eunuchs manipulated the court, created divisions amongst the government officials, and by the 9th century CE, even began to enthrone and murder emperors. One emperor authorised an official purge of the eunuchs in 835 CE to try and claw back some power but before the plan could be executed the eunuchs wiped out over 1,000 of the conspirators and anyone else they remotely suspected of trying to usurp their power. As a shocking demonstration to any future conspirators, three chancellors along with their families were publicly executed in one of the marketplaces of the capital, Chang'an.
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) eunuchs were often made military commanders. One such figure was Tong Guan (1054-1126 CE) who was Emperor Huizong's most important general. He won famous victories in the north-west border regions in his youth, quashed the Fang La rebellion in Zhejiang province and continued to loyally serve his emperor into his seventies. Guan was also honoured with an official biography where it is recorded he was a painter of some talent. The biography, which appears in the Song History, displays the typical disdain and prejudice that eunuchs suffered even if they were such talented individuals as Guan:
It was his nature to be cunning and fawning. From being an attendant in the side-apartments of the palace, because he was skilled at manipulating the weighty as well as the trivial intentions of people, he was able by means of first serving in order to later command. (in Di Cosmo, 208)
Another famous eunuch was Zheng He (1371-1433 CE) who made seven voyages to the Indian Ocean for Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE). One of He's fleets was composed of 317 ships, including 62 'treasure ships' full of gifts for foreign rulers and over 30,000 men. On his various travels, He followed Arab trading routes and stopped off at such far-flung places as Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. He then returned to China and wowed the court with his exotic captures such as giraffes, lions, and fabulous gems.
From the early 15th century CE the eunuchs set up their own mini-bureaucracy at court where they could ferret away paperwork and filter out the input of government ministers in state affairs. It even included a secret service branch which could investigate corruption or identify suspects who might plot against the status quo and imprison, beat, and torture them if necessary in the prison the eunuchs had created for that purpose. At the end of the century, this eunuch-led apparatus had grown spectacularly to 12,000 employees, making it the equal of the official state bureaucracy. By the latter stages of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE) there were some 70,000 eunuchs, and they had established almost complete domination of the imperial court. During that period four infamous dictators - Wang Zhen, Wang Zhi, Liu Jin, and Wei Zhongxian - were all eunuchs.
The power they held and the political intrigues they often stirred up resulted in the eunuchs becoming infamous, and they were especially unpopular with Confucianist scholars. Huang Zongxi, the Ming dynasty Neo-Confucianist thinker here sums up the general view of eunuchs in Chinese history: "Everyone has known for thousands of years that eunuchs are like poison and wild beasts" (in Dillon, 93).
John Nash Renovates
As George IV’s health continued to fail, Nash designed and built out Buckingham House into a large, U-shaped structure faced with stone from the quarries near Bath, England. His design expanded the main section of the building, adding west wings, as well as branches to the north and south. The east wings were also rebuilt.
The wings of the new palace enclosed a large court, and the architect built a triumphal arch—with images depicting Britain’s recent military victories𠅊t the center of the palace’s forecourt to create an imposing entrance for visiting dignitaries.
Although Nash’s work on the new palace was well received, and the building is still viewed as an architectural masterpiece today, Nash was dismissed by British government officials soon after George IV’s death in 1830.
The reason? The cost of the project. Nash’s masterpiece cost British taxpayers more than ,000 to build.
To make matters worse, George IV’s brother, William IV, ascended to the throne in 1830, and he had no interest in relocating to the newly built Buckingham Palace. He preferred his princely home, Clarence Palace, instead.
When the House of Parliament was destroyed by fire in the 1830s, William IV offered Buckingham Palace as the new home of the legislature. However, the offer was politely declined.
In 1833-34, the British Parliament voted to complete the furnishing and interior refurbishment of Buckingham Palace for use as the official royal home. Following William IV’s death, in 1837, his niece, Victoria, assumed the throne and became the first royal resident of Buckingham Palace.
Facts about the Palace of Versailles
Over the years, lots of interesting facts about the Palace of Versailles have emerged.
Some are documented Versailles facts, and some are just legends or myths. Some are academic, and some are just trivia that’s good to know.
Check out some of the best Palace of Versailles facts –
1. Versailles is not the world’s largest palace
The Palace of Versailles covers 8,150,265 square meters (87,728,720 square feet), or 2,014 acres.
It has 67,002 square meters (721,206 square feet) of floor space.
However, the Palace of Versailles is NOT the largest in the world.
Instead, it is the World’s Largest Royal Domain – the largest ever space built for the Royals.
China’s Summer Palace complex in Beijing is the world’s largest Palace by ‘area enclosed within the palace walls.’
While Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania is the World’s largest palace by floor space.
2. Versailles was the center of power for only 100 years
Even though lots of time and money got spent on the Palace of Versailles, it wasn’t in use for long.
The court of Versailles was the seat of French political power only from 1682 to 1789.
The French revolution, which started in 1789, almost destroyed the Palace of Versailles.
3. It is now the museum of the history of France
Louis-Philippe, who became King of France in 1830, decided to dedicate Palace of Versailles to all the glories of France.
He decreed that the palace should become a museum and showcase the glorious history of France.
As of today, the Museum has more than 6,000 paintings and 3,000 sculptures and is one of the richest sources of French history.
4. Royal Opera of Versailles was once the largest in Europe
The Royal Opera of Versailles was architected by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, and that’s why it is also known as Theatre Gabriel.
It was inaugurated in 1770 and was the largest Opera house in the whole of Europe for a long time.
Augustin Pajou handled the interior decoration. He came up with a technique known as ‘faux marble’ wherein the interiors were built of wood but made to resemble marble.
This technique is credited for the excellent acoustics of the opera house.
Theatre Gabriel can seat around 700 spectators.
5. Hall of Mirrors is the best room in Palace of Versailles
The King put a lot of effort into building the Palace of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors.
It has 17 massive mirrored arches opposite 17 windows. Each one of the arches further contains 21 mirrors – that is 357 in total.
This hall also had numerous glass chandeliers hanging from the roof.
When other Royals and dignitaries came visiting, the Hall of Mirrors was lit up with many candles transforming it into what the historians call a ‘corridor of light.’
Depending on the occasion, some guests were welcomed by lighting 20,000 candles.
The hall is long at 73 meters (239.5 feet) and had a width of 10.5 meters (34.4 feet).
6. People of France hated Palace of Versailles
The palace should have been a matter of pride for France’s people, for it was the inspiration for so many other palaces built in different parts of the World.
However, this wasn’t the case.
The common people of France were poor and often starved.
They viewed the King and Queen’s lifestyle as extravagant and outrageous.
7. Five chapels have been built in Palace of Versailles so far
The Chapel you will see during your Palace of Versailles visit is the fifth one built within the Palace of Versailles.
King Louis XIII got it built in 1710.
Earlier, four chapels were constructed in different parts of the Palace but were either destroyed or converted into something else.
8. The Kings Apartments was heavenly
The Kings Apartment at the Palace of Versailles was fit for a King. Literally.
Known as Grands Appartements du Roi, they were a series of rooms beautifully decorated and dedicated to the gods and planets.
That is why the inhabitants of the palace called it ‘Apartment of the Planets’.
Every room was dedicated to each of the then-known seven planets and the Roman God associated with it.
The King’s Apartments consisted of five rooms – The Guard Room, The Royal Table Antechamber, The Bull’s Eye Antechamber, the Counsel Chamber, and the most private King’s Bed Chamber.
9. The Queen’s Apartments had a secret door
Just because the King and Queen had their own apartments didn’t mean that all wasn’t well in their marriage.
The King almost always slept in the Queen’s Apartments, which consisted of five rooms – The Queen’s Guard Room, The Royal Table Antechamber, The Nobles’ Room, and the Queen’s Bedchamber.
Did you know this Palace of Versailles fact – that the Queens gave birth in their bedchambers in public? Well, almost.
The close family and the attendants used to be in the room, and the doors were left open symbolically to suggest that the Queen was delivering the heir in public.
The Queen’s apartment at Versailles had a secret door used by Marie-Antoinette to escape the French revolution rioters who attacked the Palace on October 6, 1789.
Besides the Kings and the Queen’s apartments there is lots to see and enjoy at Palace of Versailles.
10. Golden gate of the Palace was destroyed by a mob
Since the people of France hated the Royals in the Palace of Versailles, they didn’t let go when they got their chance.
When the French revolution began, the rioters landed at the palace’s gates and destroyed the 80-meter tall steel gate decorated with 100,000 gold leaves.
In 2008 – 220 years after it got destroyed – private donations helped restore the gate and decorate it with a hundred thousand gold leaves.
The restoration cost 5 Million Euros (8 Million dollars).
11. Tennis was popular in Palace of Versailles
The Fench Monks developed the game of Tennis in the 11th or 12th Century.
Even though by the 18th Century, its popularity in France had dwindled, earlier it was quite popular with the Royals.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Jeu de paume, an older version of modern-day Tennis, was part of the royal children’s education process.
However, the tennis court at the Palace of Versailles is more famous for what is known as the “Tennis Court oath at Versailles.”
On June 20, 1789, many commoners met at this Tennis court to take an oath.
They promised to fight together to bring about a written constitution in France.
12. Palace of Versailles was open to the public
This is one of the most fantastic Palace of Versailles fact – that it was open to the public.
Not many palaces open their doors to the commoners. However, in 1682, the King decided to open the doors to anyone wishing to explore.
There were only two expectations from a commoner willing to enter the Palace of Versailles.
- They were not to carry weapons (the guards ensured that)
- They observed proper etiquette such as wearing a hat, carrying a sword, etc. In fact, at the Palace entrance, people could rent out hats and swords for low rates.
13. Maintaining the Versailles Palace was a costly affair
Maintaining Versailles Palace’s dreamlike extravagance was financially draining.
Some estimates say that the annual cost of maintaining the Palace of Versailles would have been anywhere between 5% to 25% of the French government’s income.
If so much money weren’t diverted towards the Palace of Versailles, the commoners wouldn’t have starved, and the French Revolution wouldn’t have happened.
14. The French Revolution emptied the Palace
During the French revolution, most of the furniture and artwork in the Versailles Palace was sold or moved to the museums.
One of the biggest beneficiaries was the Louvre Museum in Paris.
During the Palace’s restoration (many restorations have happened over the years), the original artwork was brought back and placed in the ‘Museum of French History.’
15. The King and Queen always ate their food cold
This is a funny Palace of Versailles fact.
At its peak occupancy, the palace hosted around 5000 people – made up of royals, aristocrats, and servants.
More than 100 cooks and waiters worked in the palace’s enormous kitchen to feed so many people.
However, the King and the Queen always ate their food cold.
The architect had missed factoring in the distance between the kitchen and the King’s dining quarters.
16. Palace of Versailles is the costliest building in the world
More than 35,000 workers worked on the Palace of Versailles.
The Palace of Versailles gardens alone took 40 years to design and nurture.
When France was not at war, its soldiers helped build the Versailles Palace.
Money for the palace came from multiple sources – Louis XIV’s privy purse, the country’s earnings, etc.
It is difficult to say how much the Palace of Versailles cost to build with such unstructured spending.
After accounting for inflation, estimates peg its construction cost between 170 Billion Euros (200 Billion USD) to 250 Billion Euros (300 Billion USD).
In sharp contrast, today’s costliest buildings don’t cost more than 6- Billion USD.
17. Kings who stayed in Versailles Palace loved ceremonies
Interestingly, King Louis XIV, XV, and XVI loved ceremonies – so much so that every activity got converted into an elaborate affair.
When it was time for the King to wake up, his courtiers would walk into the King’s bedroom chamber and perform pre-defined ceremonies.
Later in the evening, they had a ceremonial ‘send off’ for the King to sleep.
Kings also had special ceremonies for putting on and removing their boots.
18. Living quarters in Versailles Palace were according to the standing
A person’s standing with the King decided the kind of living quarters he or she got in the Palace of Versailles.
There were around 350 living areas in Versailles Palace, and they varied in size.
Since Louis XIV’s bedroom was the most crucial room in the Palace, the closer you were to his bedroom, the more powerful you were in the system.
The servants usually had a small living area in the attic or a bed behind a staircase.
Meanwhile, a highly placed aristocrat may get a much bigger and better room closer to the King.
19. All mirror makers of Versailles Palace were assassinated
While planning the construction of the Palace of Versailles, the King decided to use only French items.
However, this posed a problem – back in those days, one of the best decoration items was a mirror, and Venice had a virtual monopoly on mirror manufacturing.
As a workaround, the French managed to convince a few Venetian artisans to defect to France.
These artists built what we know today as the Hall of Mirrors.
To keep the art of mirror making a secret, the Venetian government ordered the artisans’ assassination, who had helped the French.
20. The chamber pots at Versailles were made of silver
A Chamberpot is a bowl kept in the bedroom at night and used as a toilet during emergencies.
All chamber pots at the Palace of Versailles were made of silver. Every morning these pots would be cleaned and returned to the bedrooms.
However, these silver chamber pots had an interesting end.
In 1689, they got melted to finance Louis XIV’s war against Britain and other neighboring nations.
21. Palace of Versailles is a place to end wars
The Palace of Versailles is the place where many a war have come to an end.
The first was in 1783 when Britain and the USA signed the Treaty of Paris.
This deal officially ended the Revolutionary War. Under the terms of the treaty, Britain recognized the United States of America as an independent country.
The second instance was in 1871 when France was humiliated in the Franco-Prussia war.
As France accepted its defeat at the Palace of Versailles, Kaiser Wilhelm I got hailed as the Emperor of Germany.
However, the most important is the Treaty of Versailles, signed on 28 June 1919 in the Hall of Mirrors.
This treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers and signaled the end of World War 1.
22. Marie-Antoinette built her own village within Versailles
Marie-Antoinette was the last queen of France before the French Revolution drove away all the royals from the Palace of Versailles.
In 1783, she built her own village within Versailles to escape the Palace’s formal court life.
Her little village had a farm, barn, billiards room, theatre, etc.
She even built a ‘Temple of Love’ – consisting of a dozen columns and a statue of Cupid.
She also got a private grotto built – a secluded cave-like area covered in vegetation.
She used this space for intimate moments with the King.
23. The Americans had an intimate connection with Versailles
In 1741, American inventor Benjamin Franklin came up with what is known as a Franklin Stove.
It was a metal-lined fireplace which produced more heat and less smoke.
When Louis XVI came to know about it, he installed them in the Palace of Versailles.
The second American to have an impact on the Palace was billionaire John D. Rockefeller Jr.
During his visit to France after World War 1, Rockefeller Jr was deeply affected by the Palace’s disrepair.
He offered to finance its restoration along with two other monuments – Cathedral of Reims and Fontainebleau.
24. The Palace of Versailles was built on a massive scale
The architect of this palace would have been one busy man.
The Palace of Versailles has 700 rooms with 2,153 windows, 1,200 fireplaces, and 1250 chimneys. The palace has 67 staircases.
To decorate the palace, approximately 6,000 paintings and 5,000 pieces of furniture and other artifacts got used.
The gardens of Versailles have approximately 400 sculptures.
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“Even though we physically moved away, the spirits of my (our) ancestors are still here. If you stop for a minute and listen, you can hear the children laughing and the women talking. You can hear the dogs barking and the turkeys gobbling. You can hear and feel the beat of the drums and the singing. You can smell the cooking fires. You can feel their presence, their warmth, their sense of community” - T J Atsye, Laguna Pueblo
Open 8:00 a.m. to sunset, the Cliff Palace Loop Road takes you past Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and overlooks to other cliff dwellings. You may enter Balcony House or Cliff Palace by ranger-guided tour only. Visit Purchasing Tour Tickets for more information.
Recent studies reveal that Cliff Palace contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas and had a population of approximately 100 people. Out of the nearly 600 cliff dwellings concentrated within the boundaries of the park, 75% contain only 1-5 rooms each, and many are single room storage units. If you visit Cliff Palace you will enter an exceptionally large dwelling which may have had special significance to the original occupants. It is thought that Cliff Palace was a social, administrative site with high ceremonial usage.
Cliff Palace doorways
Many visitors look at the size of the doorways in Cliff Palace and other cliff dwellings and wonder about the size of the people who once lived here. An average man was about 5'4" to 5'5" (163 cm) tall, while an average woman was 5' to 5'1" (152 cm). If you compare them with European people of the same time period, they would have been about the same size. Compared with today, the Ancestral Pueblo people's average life span was relatively short, due, in part, to the high infant mortality rate. Most people lived an average of 32-34 years, however some people did live into their 50s and 60s. Approximately 50% of the children died before they reached the age of five.
Example of chinking
Sandstone, mortar and wooden beams were the three primary construction materials for the cliff dwellings. The Ancestral Pueblo people shaped each sandstone block using harder stones collected from nearby river beds. The mortar between the blocks is a mixture of local soil, water and ash. Fitted in the mortar are tiny pieces of stone called "chinking." Chinking stones filled the gaps within the mortar and added structural stability to the walls. Over the surface of many walls, the people decorated with earthen plasters of pink, brown, red, yellow, or white -- the first things to erode with time.
Cliff Palace Late 1800s and Cliff Palace Today
From the late 13th century to 1880s, Cliff Palace slowly deteriorated from the effects of water, wind, freeze/thaw cycles, differential fill levels, a variety of animals, spalling of the alcove roof, and the inherent qualities of the prehistoric structures themselves. Over the course of six centuries, Cliff Palace was visually transformed from an imposing assemblage of buildings,courtyards, and subterranean kivas to an array of stone structures rising from tons of rubble and debris. Still remarkably impressive, the effects of time were nevertheless evident. However, with the 'discovery' of Cliff Palace in the late 1800s, this gradual process of decay rapidly accelerated. Casual visitation and commercial exploration employed everything from pick and shovel to dynamite in an effort to recover all types of artifacts. In the end, the form and fabric of Cliff Palace was heavily damaged throughout its extent, with the natural processes of deterioration now altered by human activity. Visit Preserving Cliff Palace to learn more about the work involved in preserving this remarkable piece of American history.
All archeological sites, especially those with standing architecture like Cliff Palace, require continued assessment and maintenance. Natural factors such as rainfall and alcove spalling, as well as animals and insects, all impact the integrity of the site's fabric. As a public site, conditions at Cliff Palace are routinely monitored on an annual basis. To learn how the park continues to preserve archeological sites for future generations, visit the Archeological Site Conservation Program.
The palace seen by a European
In 1777 a book was published, the "Memoirs concerning the Chinese". Written by an anonymous missionary, he describes the forbidden city in these terms:
The palaces of the emperor are real palaces and bear witness to the grandeur of the lord who inhabits them by the immensity, symmetry, elevation, regularity, splendor and magnificence of the innumerable edifices which compose them. The Louvre would largely stand in one of the courtyards of the palace of Peking, and there are many from the first entrance to the more secret apartment of the Emperor, not to mention the lateral edifices. All the missionaries we saw coming from Europe were struck by the air of grandeur, wealth and power of the palace of Peking. All have confessed that if the various parts which compose it do not enchant sight, as the finest examples of great European architecture, their whole constitutes a spectacle to which nothing of what they had seen before had prepared them. This palace measures 236 toises and 2 feet from east to west, and 236 toises and 9 feet from north to south. To this must be added the three former courts, which, although surrounded by buildings larger than the others, are not included in these measures. Thousands of toises [Note: the Chinese toise is equivalent to ten feet], all occupied or surrounded by towers, galleries, porticoes, halls and important buildings, produce all the more effect that forms are very the proportions more simple, the planes more assorted, and the whole tending towards the same end: everything, in fact, becomes more beautiful as one approaches the throne room and the apartments of the emperor.
The lateral courtyards can not be compared with the central courtyards, nor the first ones to those which are situated further back. The same goes for everything else. The last courses, which are neither porcelain nor gilded as in tales, but clad in a coarse majolica, enamelled in golden yellow, and loaded with relief ornaments, surpass all others by their cornices and their angles in ridge decorated. We shall say nothing of the golden colors and varnishes which confer such splendor on the great edifices, lest they give the impression of a snuff-box or a sweet box. It would take whole volumes to describe in their entirety the palaces which the Emperor possesses in Peking, in the neighborhood, in the provinces, and beyond the Great Wall. But as some imaginations are easily ignited, and make a fire of a single spark, we will immediately tell them that although politics have willed them to support majesty, and to give an idea of the power of one of the greatest princes of the earth, she took care to make them all smaller, less magnificent, less ornate than that of Beijing