The Palace of Versailles is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about 12 miles (19 km) west of Paris, France. The palace is owned by the French Republic and has since 1995 been managed, under the direction of the French Ministry of Culture, by the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles. 15,000,000 people visit the Palace, Park, or Gardens of Versailles every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. However, due to the COVID-19 virus, the number of paying visitors to the Chateau dropped by 75 percent from eight million in 2019 to two million in 2020. The drop was particularly sharp among foreign visitors, who account for eighty percent of paying visitors.
A hunting lodge was built in 1623 on the site of the Palace of Versailles by King Louis XIII, and expanded by Louis XIV in three phases from 1661 to 1715. The palace was a favorite residence for both kings, and in 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of his court and government to Versailles, making the palace the de facto capital of France.
The palace and park were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, while the French Ministry of Culture has placed the palace, its gardens, and some of its subsidiary structures on its list of culturally significant monuments.