||The Chateau of Versailles
There's Louis XIV
riding his horse in front of his Palace.
Brief History of the Chateau:
Versailles was originally the site of a hunting lodge built
in 1624 by Louis XIII. After he died, his son, Louis XIV, ordered that a palace be
constructed on the same site. Work began in 1661 under the direction of Louis Le Vau, a
French architect. The entire palace was built around the hunting lodge. The palace took
36,000 men more than 40 years to complete. It was occupied by three successive kings
before the French Revolution. Over 1,000 nobles were in residence here during the reign of
Louis XIV. It was expanded throughout his reign as the King. Louis XIV built virtually all
of the Palace and the Parks. The only exception is the Opera. The Hall of Mirrors is where
the Treaty of Versailles was signed which ended World War I.The palace is more than 1/4
mile (0.4 kilometer) long and has about 1,300 rooms. Many of the rooms have been restored
and refurnished to look as they did when royalty lived in them. The palace also has
paintings and sculptures by famous European artists.
The interior of the palace is richly decorated. The most famous rooms include the living
quarters of the king and queen, the Room of Hercules, and the Hall of Mirrors. The Hall of
Mirrors, designed by Charles Le Brun, was begun in 1678. It is a long hallway lined with
mirrors that runs along the front of the palace. The ceiling is decorated with paintings
glorifying the achievements of Louis XIV. The palace also contains a magnificent royal
chapel and a private theater.
The French Revolution of 1789-1799 led to the overthrow of the French king. Mobs invaded
the palace during the revolution and removed or destroyed most of the furniture and art.
Little was done to maintain the building until the early 1900's, when restoration work
began. This project is still going on.
|The middle room on the second floor below the clock was the King's
bedroom. The clock was always set to the time of the last King's death.
|On the left in the middle is the King's bedroom. The main part of this picture is the
rooms you will see on the guided tour of the Kings private rooms. They are set up like
they were for Louis XV. This is a great tour and if you are lucky, you will get to see the
Opera House too.
The Self-Guided Palace Tour is the first tour you should take. The highlights are the
Hall of Mirrors, Chapel, and State Apartments.
In order below is a brief description of the rooms you will see:
|When you walk in you will be on the ground floor. You can
look in the chapel. To the left of the Chapel is a spiral staircase that you will walk up
and be in the Upper Vestibule of the Chapel. You can again look in the chapel. The picture
to the right is taken from the from the Upper Vestibule.
A good rule to follow at Versailles is to always look at the ceiling
in every room. The next rooms in order are: (see the map on the following page)
Hercules Salon - Receptions used to be held in this room. Notice the Ceiling painting. The
fireplace is decorated with Lions skins and the head of Hercules.
Abundance Salon - Used to be the entrance hall to the galeries when before the Chapel was
Venus Salon - The name comes from the ceiling painting. This used to be where the King had
his supper in public. Check out the ceiling.
Diana Salon - This was Louis XIV's billiard room.
Mars Salon - this used to be the King's guard room. There are many famous paintings of the
Royal Family in this room.
Mercury Salon - Used to be a game room, many famous paintings here also. Look at the old
clock in the corner if you can.
Apollo Salon - The throne room. You can still see the three hooks to which the canopy was
attached. There are paintings of Louis XIV (not the original which is in the Louvre) and
Louis XV in this room. Look at the Ceiling.
|War Salon - This is a neat room and worth some extra time.
This room celebrates some military victories. There is a huge oval stucco bas-relief
(shown on the right) of Louis XIV on horseback riding over his enemies. It is surmounted
by two gilt figures representing Fame and held up by two gilt prisoners bound with chains
of flowers. Below on a bas-relief set into a false fireplace, Clio writes the King's
history. The ceiling depicts Franc in arms seated on a cloud surrounded by Victories. The
shield has a portrait of Louis XIV.
|Hall of Mirrors -
room speaks for itself. It used to serve as a passageway from the King's apartment to the
Queens. This is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed ending WW I. It was used for
celebrations, balls, etc. Make sure you look out the window towards the gardens.
Peace Salon - This is the counterpart to the War Salon. Not as
interesting. Look at the Ceiling.
Queen's Bedchamber - This room has been re-created to be like it was when Marie-Antoinette
left the palace for the last time in 1889 because of the revolution. They use real gold in
all of the brocades. It is an extremely gaudy room.
Nobles' Salon - Not much here, you are probably tired of my lectures by now.
Queen's Antechamber or Dining Hall. - This is where the King and Queen ate in public. It
has also served as a small theatre for Marie Antoinette.
Queen's guardroom - This is a dull room. The inlaid marble walls are pretty neat. You
wonder how they made them fit so well without machines.
Coronation Room - The King used to kneel to wash the feet of thirteen poor children to
commemorate the last supper on Holy Thursday every hear. The coronation of Napoleon
happened in this room.
|Hall of Battles - This single room used to the separate
rooms for the royal princes and princesses.The apartments were removed and it was turned
into a gallery showing large paintings from the wars. The paintings show 14 centuries of
French history starting with Clovis in 496 to Napoleon in 1809.
|If you have time to take the guided tour do it. You
will see the Opera and Louis XV's private rooms. On the right is the hallway you will walk
down to see the Opera. There are statues of past Kings of France on both sides of the
There is also a self guided audio tour you can take. The
highlight for me was seeing the King's bedroom. Louis XIV died in the bed that is on