Versailles palace was a residence for the French royal court from 1682-1789, and to this day, it is one of the largest palaces in the world.
The history of the palace in Versailles goes back to 1624, when King Louis XIII started expansion work on a small hunting lodge within the village of Versailles — today a suburb of Paris, about 20 km from central Paris — and over time, from those humble beginnings emerged a magnificent palace, one of the best tourist attractions in Paris.
PHOTO: Versailles palace buildings and entrance gates, as seen fromAvenue de Paris. The equestrian statue in the picture is of King Louis XIV (the famous “Sun King”), who was the king to move the royal court here from Louvre palace.
PHOTO: A closer look at the Louis XIV equestrian statue within Place d’Armes. The statue was commissioned to be build by King Louis-Philippe, and it was completed in 1836.
PHOTO: The golden gate of Versailles, an entrance to the Versailles palace courtyard. However, main visitor entrance to the palace is from a portal located to the left from the picture.
PHOTO: Main entrance to the palace from the courtyard.
PHOTO: Versailles gardens side of the palace, a view from “parterres d’eau” section. The garden pools were designed to be a source of light to the Hall of Mirrors…as architect André Le Nôtre considered natural light one of the central decoration elements. The “Rhône” bronze statue (by Etienne Le Hongre), is one of the water gardens’ four allegorical artworks, which symbolize four major rivers of France. The style comes from antiquity, when Greeks and Romans portrayed their rivers resting and bearded old men, wearing grass-weed crowns, with a cornucopia (horn of plenty) in hand — symbolizing water as a source of wealth.
PHOTO: Versailles has a total of 2,102 sculptures. The pictured statue is at the Versailles gardens side of the building.
PHOTO: Formal gardens of Versailles, “Orangerie”, was a highlight in the design by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The section offers wide, open spaces, tall trees, and clear lines. Orangerie has orange trees from Portugal, Spain, and Italy, as well as citrus and pomegranade trees…some of which are over 200 years old.
PHOTO: Overview to the Versailles palace gardens, which Louis XIV commissioned André Le Nôtre to design in 1661. The magnificent gardens took no less than 40 years to be completed. The fountain in front is called “Latona”, from 1670, inspired by Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”. In the background, meanwhile, there is the 1670 meter long “Grand Canal”. Grande Canal contains a section called “Little Venice“, named for the fact that Venetian Republic sent to the king (in 1674) two gondolas and four gondoliers, who were housed at the “Little Venice” section.
PHOTO: Combat d’animaux (“Battle of the Animals”) monuments are one of the gardens more dramatic highlights. Pictured artwork (from 1687) is located next to the stairs leading down to the Latona fountain, by Jacques Houzeau, and titled “Combat d’animaux : un limier abattant un cerf” (“Battle of the Animals: a Bloodhound Killing a Male Deer”), as part of the “Fontaine de point du jour” (“Fountain of the Dawn”).
PHOTO: Paris Versailles palace buildings, as seen from the gardens’ Apollo fountain. The 335 meter (366 yard) long and 40 meter (43 yard) wide section that leads to the palace is called “Royal Walkway”. The walkway, which was build during the reign of King Louis XIII, has side kiosks, selling small snacks and drinks.
PHOTO: Fountain of Apollo from 1671. The fountain’s sculpture artwork portray the legend of ancient world’s sun god Apollo with a horse carriage, allegorically to Louis XIV, who was dubbed the “Sun King“.
PHOTO: Walkway within the Versailles gardens leading to the Grand Trianon palace. Grand Trianon was built by King Louis XIV from 1678-1688 (and partly designed by the King personally), as a building where he could spend time with those closest to him, away from the crowded main palace.
Versailles palace was used as an official residence of the French monarchs from 1682-1789 (ending at the French Revolution), with the original palace being extended many times over the years, especially during the reign of King Louis XIV.
The main architect for palace in Versailles was Jules Hardouin Mansart.
From his original designs, and with the many extensions made¨over the years, the place became one of the most finest royal palaces in Europe, known for its unique highlights…
…such as the “Galerie de Glaces”, or “The Hall of Mirrors” (where, as a side note, the Versailles Accord, ending WWI, was signed).
During the French Revolution (late 18th century), the palace was badly damaged, but restored to its original condition by Napoleon Bonaparte, who lived at the palace (with his wife Marie Louise) during the years of his reign.
Due to the size of the palace complex and its gardens, you should reserve plenty of time to touring the entire area.
Using guided tours, you’ll get to see…
- the State Rooms for the King and the Queen,
- the Hall of Mirrors,
- King’s private bedroom,
- rooms for the Crown-Princes, and
- “appartements de mesdames”.
Versailles gardens has many highlights worth seeing, including “Arc de Triomphe” and “Colonnade” groves, Grand and Petit Trianon pavilions, as well as the Saturn fountain.
Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Official website: en.ChateauVersailles.fr
Coming to the palace from central Paris, one of your options is to take the RER C line train, travel time of an half an hour, with the end station at (on Versailles end) “Versailles – Rive Gauche“.