The Stunning Palace of Versailles: History and Interesting Facts

Palace of Versailles: History and Interesting Facts
The Palace of Versailles is the most renowned landmark, and a prized possession of France. The Hall of Mirrors, the Grand Apartment, the Royal Chapel and other architectural masterpieces of the palace are some of the most renowned artworks of French architecture. Vacayholics tells you all about the history of the palace, along with a few less known, and interesting facts about the edifice.
Fun Fact
The grounds of the Palace of Versailles cover an area of 87,728,720 square feet, including 230 acres of gardens, making it the World's Largest Royal Domain.
The Château de Versailles or as it is commonly known, The Palace of Versailles is a royal palace that is located in the Île-de-France region of France, approximately 15 miles southwest of Paris. The palace was built in the 17th century for King Louis XIV, The Sun King, who was France's King at the time. He built the palace because he did not trust Parisians, and wanted to move his residence from the Louvre Palace. The credit for this Baroque masterpiece, largely goes to Louis Le Vau and Charles Le Brun, the architects of the palace. The spectacular garden of the palace is just as popular, and was the baby of the popular gardener André le Nôtre. Mansart, who was appointed as the architect after Le Vau's death, build the Orangerie, the Grand Trianon, the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, among other things.

The Palace of Versailles especially rose to fame when an angry mob barged into the palace and captured the queen. King Louis XVI had married Marie Antoinette, who was of an Austrian descent. This was the time when the tensions between Austria and France were growing, and so were France's debts. The Queen's lavish lifestyle during this time of poverty, made her infamous among the Parisians. This hatred ultimately led to the couple being sentenced to death in 1793. The Palace is an important part of the history of France. Let us learn about the various aspects of the palace in detail.
History of The Palace of Versailles
King Louis XIV
Statue of King Louis XIV at the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 to 1790. The palace was originally built to be a hunting lodge in 1624, by Louis XIII, and was expanded by Louis XIV around 1669. Under Louis XIV's guidance, the palace was turned into a spectacular complex, which had English and French style gardens around it. He built the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen, as well as the Hall of Mirrors designed by Mansart. The Chapel and Opera were built by Louis XV in the next century.

The palace was officially declared as the royal residence in 1682, and as the court of France on May 6, 1682. It was given up for a brief period, after the death of Louis XIV in 1715, after which, it returned to its position as a royal residence in 1722. The palace was almost destroyed during the French Revolution, as a result of which, its importance and utility decreased. The palace finally lost its position as the official residence of the Royals in 1789, and commenced a new role in the 19th century, as the Museum of the History of France, founded under Louis-Philippe, who ascended to the throne in 1830.
Hall of Mirrors
Among the most famous rooms of the magnificent palace are the Galerie des Glace (Hall of Mirrors), and the State Rooms (Grande Apartments). The Hall of Mirrors has 17 huge mirrored arches opposite 17 windows. Each one of the arch contains 21 mirrors, which makes it a massive 357 in all. The hall is 73 m long, 10.5 m wide, and 12.3 m high. The ceilings of the hall have intricate paintings and the borders of the wall are decorated with gilded statues. The several glass chandeliers that hang from its ceiling, are another beautiful aspect of the hall. On the opposite ends of the hall are the Salon of Peace (Salon de la Paix) and the Salon of War (Salon de la Guerre). The Hall of Mirrors also holds significance for being the place where the historical Treaty of Versailles was signed by the Allies of Germany in 1919.
The construction of the Chapels of Versailles started in 1689, and it was completed in 1710. The architectural style of the chapels is a combination of Gothic and Baroque. Among the five chapels that were built, the present chapel i.e., the fifth chapel is an unreserved masterpiece. The chapel is dedicated to Saint Louis, patron Saint of the Bourbons. The decorations of the church have both, the Old Testament, and the New Testament themes. The ceiling was painted by Antoine Coypel, and represents God the Father in His Glory Bringing to the World the Promise of Redemption. The half dome has The Resurrection of Christ by Charles de la Fosse, whereas the royal tribune has been decorated by Jean Jouvenet's The Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Virgin and the Apostles.

Many of the court's events like the birth of princes and princesses, weddings, and military victories, were celebrated in the Royal Chapel, during the 18th century. This includes the wedding of Louis XVI of France with Marie-Antoinette. Today, the chapel serves as a venue for musical concerts.
The State Apartments
The Grand Apartment of the King (Grand appartement du roi) and The Grand Apartment of the Queen (Grand appartemenappartement de reine), were collectively called The State Apartments. The Grand Appartement du roi, which was originally known as the Apartment of the Planets, was the apartment of King Louis XIV. Each of the seven rooms of the apartment was dedicated to each of the then-known planets, and the Roman deity associated with it. The apartment was reserved for the thrice-weekly parties hosted by the King for the members of his court, which were known as les soirées de l'appartement. The rooms were greatly influenced by the Italian architecture since the architect, Le Brun was studying under Pietro da Cortona at the time. The decorations on the ceilings mainly represented the heroic actions of King Louis XIV.

The Grand appartement de reine served as a residence to three queens namely, Marie-Thérèse d'Autriche, wife of Louis XIV, Marie Leczinska, wife of Louis XV, and Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI. This apartment also consisted seven rooms, which were identical to the ones in the Grand apartment of the King. It consisted of a chapel, salle de gardes, antichambre, chambre, grand cabinet, oratory, and the petit cabinet. The ceilings on this one were decorated with the depictions of the heroines from the antique past.
The Royal Opera of Versailles
The Royal Opera of Versailles or L'Opéra Royal de Versailles, which is used for hosting operas, stage plays, and concerts today, was first used for the wedding ball of King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. The idea of the monument was conceived in 1682. However, because of the ambitious nature of the architects, Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Vigarani, the inauguration of the building was delayed by 20 years. The project was finally entrusted to Ange-Jacques Gabriel who began the construction in 1765, and completed it by 1770. It ultimately opened on May 16, 1770 with a performance of Persée by Quinault and Lully. The auditorium is made entirely from wood, and accommodates more than 700 people at a time. The floor of the orchestra level, can be raised to the stage level, thus increasing the floor space, and accommodating as many as 1200 people. Since its construction, the building has undergone multiple renovations. The Royal Opera of Versailles is one the very few theaters to have survived from the 18th century until today.
Interesting Facts About The Palace of Versailles
★ The construction of the palace had cost 116,438, 892 Livres at the time. (Today: 2 billion dollars approx.)
★ The Palace of Versailles is spread in an area of 51,000 square meters. It has a total number of 2,153 windows, 1,200 fireplaces, 700 rooms, over 67 staircases, and a 2,000-acre garden.
Chateau De Versailles
Chateau De Versailles
Versailles Palace France
Versailles Palace France
France Palace Of Versailles
France Palace Of Versailles
Tourists At Versailles Palace France
Tourists At Versailles Palace France
★ The vases and statues in the gardens were once damaged by members of the public, the reason why King Louis XIV made them private. It was not until a few years later that he changed his mind, and made them accessible to people.
★ A lot of the furniture and artwork in the palace was sold or moved to the museums during the French Revolution. It was only during the palace's restoration that the original artwork was placed in the palace's museum.
★ On special occasions, the Hall of Mirrors was lit with as many as 20,000 candles to transform it into a "corridor of light".
Beautiful Garden In Versailles Palace
Beautiful Garden In Versailles Palace
Gardens Of The Palace Versailles France
Gardens Of The Palace Versailles France
Gardens Of The Palace Versailles
Gardens Of The Palace Versailles
★ Louis XIV spent one third of the total building budget of the palace, on its fountains alone.
★ In order to meet the construction deadlines of The Royal Opera of Versailles, Gabriel had all his various craftsmen work at the same time. For example, the workers would work on the woodwork in workshops, whilst the building shell was being finished. This is why you will see certain architectural inconsistencies in the hall.
★ It took 36,000 workers to construct the palace, along with its gardens. After its completion, it could accommodate as many as 5,000 people at a time.
★ The Treaty of Versailles was signed by the allies in the Hall of Mirrors, during the end of World War I, in 1919.
★ 210,000 flowers and 200,000 trees are planted annually in The Garden of Versailles.
Latona Fountain In Front Of Herrenchiemsee
Latona Fountain In Front Of Herrenchiemsee
Castle Herrenchiemsee In Germany
Castle Herrenchiemsee In Germany
Latona Fountain In Action
Latona Fountain In Action
Latona Fountain In Front Of Herrenchiemsee Castle
Latona Fountain In Front Of Herrenchiemsee Castle
★ The grounds of the palace itself, have 2 smaller palaces, which are just as intricately decorated as the main palace.
★ A ceremony was held for each mundane act of King Louis XIV, including waking up, and going to bed, which had to be compulsorily attended by the people. This was his way to control his image among his subjects. In addition, he had up to 200 servants to carry out several duties.
★ The Great Hall (Grande Galerie), initially used to be an outdoor terrace. It was turned into the Hall of Mirrors much later, so as to showcase the King's prized possession of antique sculptures.
★ Up to 10,000 trees in the garden were destroyed as a result of the winter storm in 1999.
Sculptures in the Palace of Versailles
Sculptures In The Palace of Versailles
Flora Fountain In Versailles Palace Garden France
Flora Fountain In Versailles Palace Garden France
Versailles Sculptures
Versailles Sculptures
★ The palace was decorated with various masterpieces of art, which included an estimated 6,000 paintings and 5,000 pieces of furniture.
★ The kitchens of the palace alone had hundreds of servants, in spite of which the King's meals were often served cold, due to the distance between the kitchen and the dining room.
Versailles Chateau Facade
Versailles Chateau Facade
Golden Details
Golden Details
Fragment Of Versailles Palace France
Fragment Of Versailles Palace France
★ The gardens have, in all, 400 sculptures.
★ The gates of the Palace of Versailles are completely made out of gold. These gates were destroyed by the common people during the French revolution. The restoration of the gates in 2008, cost the French government around 8 million dollars.
The Palace of Versailles is undoubtedly one of the most amazing palaces and castles around the world. Not only does it hold a great historical significance, it also forms an important part of the French culture. The Palace, along with its garden was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.