| ||In 1661 King Louis XIV of France selected the swampy site of Versailles, near Paris, for the construction of a palace that would take fifty years of labor. Erected in the heart of a plot of 2,000 acres, set off by sumptuous gardens, 34 pools, and 620 fountains, the château covers a surface area of 550,000 square feet (51,000 m2). For more than a century it was home to approximately 1,000 nobles and 4,000 servants, before it was pillaged during the French Revolution in 1789 and abandoned. Beginning at the end of the nineteenth century, it was gradually restored and refurnished, thanks in particular to gifts from 400 patrons and state subsidies. Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1979, Versailles is now largely restored. The sixth most popular French tourist site, it receives more than 3.6 million visitors every year (compared to 12 million for the Disneyland Paris theme park), and helps keep France the most popular world tourist destination (receiving 76 million foreign visitors in 2005).
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