From the seat of power to a museum of the history of France
The Palace of Versailles has been listed as a World Heritage Site for 30 years and is one of the greatest achievements in French 17th century. Today I am taking you with me into a wonderful journey filled with glory, art, history and beauty.
At the beginning Chateau Versaille was the old hunting pavilion of Louis XIII and later transformed and extended by his son, Louis XIV, when he installed the Court and government there in 1682. A succession of kings continued to embellish the Palace up until the French Revolution.
Today the Palace contains 2,300 rooms spread over 63,154 m2.
In 1789, the French Revolution forced Louis XVI to leave Versailles for Paris. The Palace would never again be a royal residence and a new role was assigned to it in the 19th century, when it became the Museum of the History of France in 1837 by order of King Louis-Philippe.
The Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors, the most famous room in the Palace, was built to replace a large terrace designed by the architect Louis Le Vau, which opened onto the garden. The terrace originally stood between the King’s Apartments to the north and the Queen’s to the south. Work started in 1678 and ended in 1684 and the Gallery served as a waiting and meeting area. It was also used for ceremonies, royal weddings and diplomatic receptions.
The War Room
Hardouin Mansart started building the War Room in 1678. The decoration, completed by Le Brun in 1686, pays tribute to the military victories. The walls are covered with marble panels decorated with six trophies, weapons in gilded bronze and many sculptures and trophies.
The Peace Room
The Peace Room is symmetrical to the War Room and contains the same marble panel decoration and chased trophies. At first. this room was separated from the hall by a movable partition and was considered part of the Queen’s Apartment, when required, the partition was removed and the room formed part of the King’s State Apartment.
The King State Apartment
This prestigious series of seven rooms used for hosting the sovereign’s official acts. decorated with lavish Italian-style, marble panelling and painted ceilings. The State Apartment was open to all who wished to see the king.
The Royal Chapel
Construction of the Royal Chapel was completed in 1710 at the end of the reign of Louis XIV. It was the fifth and final chapel built in the Palace since the reign of Louis XIII.
The Royal Opera
The Royal Opera is one of the greatest works by the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Inaugurated in 1770 during the reign of Louis XV, it was at the time the largest concert hall in Europe and was also a great technical achievement and an impressive feat of decorative refinement. A theatre for monarchic and then republican life, it has hosted celebrations, shows and parliamentary debates.
Marie Antoinette Rooms
In Versailles the queen had a series of small rooms beyond her State Apartments which were reserved for her personal use her ladies-in-waiting. Marie Leszczyńska used to read here, paint, reflect, or receive private visits. The rooms were finely decorated and were modified several times throughout the 18th century in accordance of tastes and requirements of their occupant.
The King’s Chamber
Louis XIV made several adjustments to his Private Apartment. The most major changes were carried out in 1701 when the King’s Chamber was moved to its current location, in the centre of the façade of the Marble Courtyard. As in all royal residences, the King’s Apartment contained the customary succession of rooms: a Guard Room, two antechambers, a chamber and a cabinet. Access to these rooms was subject to strict hierarchy and controlled by etiquette. Beyond them was the king’s private domain, which, as a matter of principle, no one could enter unless invited.
The Private Apartment
After his state apartments, Louis XIV created a suite of rooms designed for more personal use, which opened onto the Marble Courtyard and the Royal Courtyard. Here he displayed his collections of artworks and paintings. Louis XV made many changes and extended the apartment to the upper floors, creating new rooms, dining rooms, libraries, scientific galleries, and laboratories. These apartments allowed the king to enjoy a certain amount of privacy.
The Queen’s Apartment
After the king decided to set aside all the rooms around the Marble Courtyard for his new apartments, the queen’s space became limited to her State Apartments, which were modified by Marie Leszczyńska and later Marie-Antoinette to a few smaller rooms for more private use situated behind the official apartments.
The Mistresses Apartment
Some of the kings’ mistresses played a key role in the history and fame of Versailles. Mme de Pompadour and later Mme Du Barry both occupied luxurious accommodation not far from King Louis XV’s Private Apartments.
The Daughters, Dauphin and Dauphines Apartments
These ground-floor apartments opened onto the Midi Parterre and were reserved for members of the royal family and daughters of the king.
The Museum is a Gallery displaying the History and Glory of France, through all the paintings, sculpture, trophies and artworks archived in different rooms in the Castle like the Historic Room, the Great Battles Room, the Empire Rooms and the Crusade Rooms among others.
The Garden and Fountain
My favorite part of the tour was driving around the gardens and cruising the lake