A magnificent palace with luxurious interiors and splendid gardens, Versailles represents the glory of Louis XIV‘s reign. Beginning in 1668 along with his father’s modest hunting lodge, the king commissioned the biggest palace in Europe, with seven hundred rooms, sixty seven staircases, and 1,800 acres (730 ha) of landscaped parkland. Architect Louis Le Vau constructed a collection of wings that expanded into an enlarged courtyard. They were embellished with marble busts, vintage trophies, and gilded roofs.
Jules Hardouin-Mansart took over in 1678 and added the two immense north and south wings. He additionally designed the chapel, which was completed in 1710. Charles le Brun planned the interiors and André Le Nôtre redesigned the gardens.
In 1682, Louis XIV declared Versailles the offical seat of the French government and courtroom. Throughout his reign, life in this luxurious Baroque palace was ordered by rigid etiquette. Under Louis XV it turned increasingly opulent with the assistance of Madame de Pompadour, the king’s mistress, who set a taste for elegance that quickly spread throughout Europe. ln 1789, Louis XVI was pressured to depart Versailles when it was invaded by a Revolutionary Parisian mob. The palace was subsequently looted and left till the reign of Louis-Phlippe, who transformed a part of it right into a museum of French history.
THE BEAUTIFUL GARDENS
André Le Nôtre, France’s greatest landscape gardener, created magnificent château gardens. His excellent architectural orchestration, Classical vision and sense of symmetry are seen in the sweeping vistas of Versailles, his biggest triumph. The gardens are styled into patterns of flowerbeds and box hedges, paths and groves, pools of water, and fountains. Gardens are formed in geometric paths and shrubberies.
INSIDE THE CHÂTEAU
The lavish residences are on the first floor of the huge château complex. Across the Marble Courtyard are the personal residences of the king and queen. On the garden aspect are the state apartments, the place official court life occurred. These were richly embellished by Charles Le Brun with coloured marble, stones, and wooden carvings, murals, velvet, silver and gilded furnishings. Beginning with the Salon d’Hercule, every state room is devoted to an Olympian deity. The climax is the Hall of Mirrors, stretching 230 ft (70 m) alongside the west façade. State events were held in this room, where many mirrors face tall, arched windows. The Chapelle Royale is also important, with the first floor reserved for the royal family and the bottom floor for the courtroom.