Learn more about French royalty and opulence with these facts about Versailles.
One of the most recognised and opulent palaces in the world, Versailles is a wonder to behold. Many illustrious figures lived in the Palace of Versailles over the years, including some of the most infamous monarchs in French history such as Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI, as well as their various queens, including the renowned Marie Antoinette.
Versailles is undoubtedly one of France's most important cultural landmarks. Read on to find out more about this UNESCO World Heritage Site with our top facts about Versailles.
Who Built the Palace of Versailles?
The Palace of Versailles, an architectural wonder, was shaped by the genius of three main figures: Louis Le Vau, André Le Nôtre, and Charles Le Brun.
Built in the 17th century, it became the seat of power in France's monarchy when Louis XIV moved the court from Paris until the French Revolution.
- Louis Le Vau: He was the chief architect and played a pivotal role in designing the initial expansions of the palace under King Louis XIV.
- André Le Nôtre: As the landscape architect, Le Nôtre was responsible for the stunning gardens and grounds of Versailles, a key element of its grandeur.
- Charles Le Brun: He was the principal painter and decorator, influencing much of the palace's interior aesthetics and artwork.
Their combined talents and visions helped to create the Palace of Versailles as we know it, a symbol of royal opulence and French artistry.
The most famous room in the palace is a complex work of architecture.
The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles is renowned for its stunning, sparkling design as well as being the site where the Treaty of Versailles was signed and brought an end to the First World War. When fully lit, it's illuminated with 3000 candles and is covered in a total of 357 Venetian mirrors.
The palace used to be a hunting lodge.
The history of Versailles is steeped in grandeur and drama, from its origins as a hunting lodge to its role as the epicenter of the French Revolution. Spread over 30,000 acres, the land on which the Palace of Versailles was built on was rich with hunting game and became a popular spot for royalty to go hunting.
King Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, particularly loved the place and in the 17th century commissioned more than 3000 workers to transform a pre-existing hunting lodge into the iconic landmark it is today.
If the Palace of Versailles were built today, it would cost roughly two billion US dollars.
The sheer scale of the grounds comes with a hefty price tag, with over 700 rooms, 60 staircases and 1200 fireplaces. In the gardens alone, there are 400 sculptures and 1400 fountains while over 5000 separate pieces of furniture are arranged within the palace.
Venetian mirror makers were employed, despite assassination threats.
Venice had a monopoly on mirror making in the 17th century, however a few select artisans were convinced to come to France and work on the Palace of Versailles. Terrified that they would share their knowledge with the French and threaten Venice's lauded position, the Venetian government ordered their assassination.
Everything in the palace and all its materials are French.
The construction of the Palace of Versailles was seen as a national project, with a stipulation that everything had to be of French-make. This extended to the art, tapestries and famous mirrors that line its walls.
King Louis XIV was a royal of great spectacle.
Stage fright was a term that simply wasn't in King Louis XIV's dictionary and he turned even the most mundane tasks in his life into a ceremony, which were attended by fellow nobles. These ceremonies even included him going to sleep and putting on his hunting boots.
During the French Revolution, many of the art pieces were moved.
As a symbol of the monarchy, the palace was heavily scrutinised and became a site of protest for the French public. Many priceless pieces of art were moved to the Louvre instead.
When Louis XIV committed adultery, he was denied communion at the palace chapel.
Louis XIV was known for being something of a playboy and as punishment for his affairs, the church would occasionally deny him and his mistresses communion during mass.
Marie Antoinette had her own private village within the grounds.
The queen built a mini palace named the Petit Trianon and created a little French town around it, which included servants quarters, a farm and more. She also created a Temple of Love which features a statue of Cupid.
The palace is so huge that Louis XIV's meals were frequently served cold.
The distance from the kitchen to the dining areas was so widespread that a good, hot meal never stood a chance. Even with hundreds of servants employed in just the kitchen, Louis XIV frequently ate cold dishes.
France Has More to Offer than Just Paris
Apart from Paris, there are other historical places in France that are worth visiting. One of them is the Palace of Versailles, located in the city of Versailles, not too far from the French capital. Don't miss out on setting time to dive into some of the amazing things that make Paris, Paris!
If you're planning a trip and wondering "where is Versailles?", it's conveniently located just 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Paris, an easy trip by train or car.