The Palace Of Versailles: 5 Things To Know About The Sun King's Palace
The exceptional site of the Palace of Versailles welcomes 3 million visitors each year in the palace itself and 7 million visitors in the park. The palace, which has more than 2,000 rooms, is not the only attraction of this mythical place, which also includes an 815-hectare park, an orangery, the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon, as well as the Queen's Hamlet.
The Palace of Versailles celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2023.
The Palace of Versailles, which was the residence of the kings Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI, was originally just a "hunting lodge, a small gentleman's castle" made of brick, stone, and slate, which Louis XIII, the father of Louis XIV, had built in 1623. The palace will therefore celebrate its 400 years of existence in September 2023.
Between 1661 and 1668, the young Louis XIV had it embellished by his Architect Louis Le Vau, before making it his official residence in 1678 and enlarging it to accommodate the court of the Sun King.
The original decor of the central part of the palace, which includes the Grand Apartments, private apartments, apartments of the Dauphin, the Dauphine, and Mesdames, has been restored since the beginning of the 20th century, while the wings of the building house the Louis-Philippe Museum.
2- It counts 2300 pieces.
In 400 years of existence, the small hunting lodge of Louis XIII has been enlarged many times to reach a surface area of 63,154 square meters, which is approximately nine football fields!
Versailles is smaller than the Louvre (the largest palace in Europe) but it is more than six times larger than the Chambord castle... The Sun King's palace has 2,300 rooms, 1,944 windows, and 352 chimneys.
The jewel of the castle is undoubtedly the Hall of Mirrors, with its 73 meters long, 10.5 meters wide, and over 12 meters high. It has seventeen windows opening onto the garden, which are matched by seventeen arcades adorned with mirrors of exceptional dimensions.
The Hall of Mirrors and its 357 mirrors underwent three years of restoration work, so that this masterpiece now reveals its original beauty to the public.
3- The domain covers 800 hectares.
The domain of the Palace of Versailles covers 800 hectares and houses 372 statues, 16 groves, 55 basins and fountains, as well as 43 kilometers of alleys and two large bodies of water: the navigable Grand Canal, measuring 1,670 meters long, and the Swiss Water Feature, spanning 12 hectares.
The gardens of the palace were designed by André Le Nôtre, the King's gardener, who created a model of the French-style garden that was soon imitated by many foreign princes. The Sun King was the patron and inspiration behind these gardens, characterized by a geometric layout and meticulously trimmed vegetation, forming a true vegetal architecture.
4- The gardens are home to a small village.
The Hameau de la Reine is one of the most unique sites of the Palace of Versailles. It is a village that Queen Marie-Antoinette had built, following the example of the Prince of Condé in Chantilly, to enjoy the pleasures of the countryside with her children.
This hamlet, in Norman style, was built by Richard Mique from 1783 to 1785. It consists of 12 thatched cottages surrounded by vegetable and flower gardens, originally arranged around the Grand Lake.
The queen had her own house there, the only one covered with tiles. A little further away is the Farm (where the milk served to the queen came from) and the Dairy, located at the foot of the Pêcherie tower.
5- The festivities are in full swing in 2023.
The Palace of Versailles, which is one of the most visited tourist sites in France, is offering a new program for its 400th anniversary.
Visitors will soon have access to Marie-Antoinette's private apartments and a completely redesigned and reorganized Gallery of History.
These new spaces will allow you to discover the four centuries of Versailles' history, from the construction of the modest hunting lodge initiated by Louis XIII in 1623, to the present day. In this gallery, over 120 works of art, complemented by digital devices, trace the ever-evolving changes of a palace in constant excitement.