Château de Versailles, as the French call it, is a former royal residence of France. As the name suggests, you’ll find it in the city of Versailles, which is less than 30km from Paris. It is one of the most famous monuments in France and one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The palace is 360 years old, so, as you can imagine, it is steeped in history and heritage. Want to know more? Here are some of the most interesting facts about the Palace of Versailles, France.
7 Interesting Facts about the Palace of Versailles, France
1. Versaille is a former royal residence
Louis XIII built The Palace of Versailles in 1623 as an old hunting pavilion. His son, Louis XIV extended the estate when he installed the Court and government there in 1682. Eventually, he turned it into the magnificent palace which was home to the French kings between 1662 and 1789.
2. The gardens symbolise the King’s power
The Gardens of Versailles are just as impressive as the palace. André Le Nôtre planned the gardens and they symbolise the power King Louis XIV had over everything, including nature. The gardens cover more than 30,000 acres and as you stroll around you’ll find 1,400 fountains, 400 sculptures, 200,000 trees and a canal that is 5.57km long.
3. The Palace became the Museum of the History of France
In 1789, the French Revolution forced Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette to flee Versailles for Paris. The Palace would never again be a royal residence. To keep the Palace’s artwork safe during the revolution, it was moved to the Louvre. In 1837, King Louis-Philippe ordered that the Palace of Versailles become the Museum of the History of France.
4. The Palace of Versailles was the location for important milestones in history
The Peace of Paris of 1783 was a trilogy of treaties that ended the American Revolutionary War. Representatives of Britain, France and Spain signed two of these treaties in the Palace of Versailles. Then, on June 28, 1919, the Allied and associated powers and Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. This put an end to World War One.
5. The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most spectacular rooms
The Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles has a total of 357 mirrors. More than 3,000 candles illuminate the room. It is the most spectacular part of the palace. At the time of its construction, Venice had a monopoly on mirror making and kept the process a guarded secret. However, the French enticed many Venetian artisans to come to France to work on the Hall of Mirrors for the King. As a result, the Venetian government called for the assassination of the artists in order to keep their mirror making secrets safe.
6. It is one of the most visited tourist sites in the world
Today, the Palace contains 2,300 rooms, 60 staircases, 1,200 fireplaces, 6,000 paintings, and 5,000 pieces of furniture. Each year, over 10 million people walk around the gardens and 5 million visitors explore the palace building. This makes it the second most visited historic site in the world. The most visited is the Forbidden City in Bejing. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and a place of “outstanding universal value.”
7. It has influenced many other buildings and gardens
The Palace of Versailles influenced a lot of architects and other buildings especially from the end of the 17th-century to the end of the 18th-century. Britain’s most eminent architect of the time, Sir Christopher Wren, incorporated memories of Versailles into Hampton Court and Andreas Schlüter, a German baroque sculptor and architect did the same when designing the façades of the Palais Royal in Berlin. Many other palaces reminiscent of Versailles have sprung up all over Europe. You’ll find these “Little Versailles” in Nymphenburg, Schleissheim, Karlsruhe, Würtzbourg, Postdama and Stockholm. You also find gardens that draw influence from Le Nôtre’s gardens, for instance, Windsor Castle, the Gardens of the Mont des Récollets in Cassel and the Royal Gardens of La Granja in Spain.