10 Facts About the Palace of Versailles
If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Paris, you’re not going to find anywhere better than the Palace of Versailles. It’s simply the most fabulous, the most opulent and the most luxurious place in the capital, if not the country.
Unfortunately, although the palace is open to visit, you’re not going to be allowed to stay there.
Don’t worry though, thesqua.re has some amazing serviced apartments in Paris, some of which are close enough to the Palace of Versailles so you can pop in and see what you’re missing.
The Palace of Versailles was built as a royal palace in the Île-de-France region. When it was constructed it was seen as a symbol of the ‘absolute monarchy’ that France was held under at the time, though the Palace itself was only used for a short period of that monarchy, from 1682 to 1789.
Here are ten interesting facts about the Palace.
1. The most famous room in the Palace is the Hall of Mirrors which consists of seventeen arches, each containing 21 mirrors, opposite seventeen windows. The huge 75-metre hall has complex paintings across the ceiling with huge glass chandeliers dangling down. The walls are lined with numerous gold statues too. On special occasions, the room is filled with over 20,000 candles which transforms the room into a sparkling paradise.
2. The Palace has its own Opera House and theatre called L’Opéra Royal de Versailles (The Royal Opera of Versailles). It is also sometimes called the Théâtre Gabriel, after the man who designed it, Ange-Jacques Gabriel. At first glance, the theatre appears to be made entirely of marble, but it is in fact constructed of wood using an effect known as ‘faux marble’.
3. The Garden of Versailles is easily as famous as the Palace itself, which is easy to understand as it’s considered the largest garden in the world at 1,976 acres. Two hundred thousand trees are planted in the gardens every year! As well as over 210,000 trees.
4. Aside from the flowers and trees, the most famous things in the gardens are the fountains. This is not surprising considering King Louis XIV spent nearly a third of his entire palace budget having them designed and built. The result is spectacular today, let alone in the 1600s. It’s also an amazing fact that a lot of the fountains still use the original hydraulics systems.
5. The golden gates of the Palace are particularly spectacular as you pass through them, however, they are not the original ones. The originals were torn down and destroyed during the French revolution and these are replicas erected in 2008. They are still as opulent as the originals, however, comprising of 100,000 gold leaves and costing five million Euros to construct.
6. The total cost to construct the Palace of Versailles has been debated for many years by historians. In truth, it is difficult to price something as extravagant as the palace. Most people agree, however, that it was one of the most expensive building projects to ever take place. King Louis XIII only wanted a hunting lodge when he started the project, it was his son, Louis XIV who added the bling! One estimate from a US documentary puts the cost at $300 billion!
7. The kitchens of the palace were huge, housing hundreds of cooks and servants. However, despite all of the manpower, it is said that the royal family often ate their meals cold. This is simply due to the huge distance between the kitchen and the dining room!
8. The King moved the French government to the Palace of Versailles too. The thinking was that if the King and his government resided outside of Paris they would be protected from any civil unrest there.
9. What with all of the government working and sometimes living at the palace, the hundreds and hundreds of servants required to keep the place running and of course his family, the king ended up felling a little bit overcrowded at Versailles. Unbelievably he built himself a smaller palace just over a kilometre and a half up the road. This allowed him and a few selected invitees the opportunity to ‘get away from it all’.
10. There were probably around 350 areas within the palace that were designated as living units. A living unit includes spaces from multi-room apartments to an alcove in the side of the room. The size of the room you were allocated obviously depended on your status. Noblemen could get a number of rooms for themselves, a servant would be lucky to get space in the corner of the attic.