I loved the Palace of Versailles because of the royal atmosphere and the richness of the French history. So when we visited the place, we took a tour guide to make our visit more significant. I really enjoyed the entire site. I learned everything that I wished to learn and the information was very detailed and beneficial.
While our guide was busy telling us the history/stories of the palace, I was also busy writing down my notes. I also learned some relevant information about the palace from my man.
After I saw the palace, it certainly caused me to reflect on the contrast between the incredible opulence and luxury of the place and the poverty of the majority of the population. I wish to go there again with my son.
I would like to share with you a list of a few lesser known but equally fascinating information:
1. The Palace of Versailles is about 20 km or 16 miles South-west away from Paris. It was built by King Louis XIV who became a king when he was 5 years old and identified himself with Apollo the Sun God. King Louis XIV moved from Paris for some safety reasons and for political reasons. While he was living in the Louvre as a very young boy, a mutiny frightened him as an attempt was made to assault the palace.
The story of this time was told, albeit in a much romanticised and swashbuckling version, by Alexandre Dumas in the sequels to The Three Musketeers: 20 Ans Après and Le Vicomte De Bragelone (from the latest various atrocious movies were derived, usually know as something like: The Man In The Iron Mask). By the way D’Artagnan was a real character and not a fiction invented by Alexandre Dumas, D’Artagnan was a musketeer under Louis the XIII and Louis the XIV, he died during the siege of Maastricht in 1673.
Louis XIV also wanted the powerful French noblemen close to him so he could control them and awe them with the luxury of the palace. The palace of Versailles was above all a statement about the power of the king of France, statement aimed at both domestic and foreign audiences.
2. I learned that the total site of the Palace of Versailles including the gardens is larger than the Island of Manhattan in New York.
3. The entire complex was completed with ultimate opulence and luxury. The stables for the 2,000 horses the King kept on site contained fireplaces and appeared as just a portion of the main palace.
4. The Hall of Mirrors contains 17 large chandeliers and 26 smaller ones each made of solid silver can hold 1,000 candles all in all.
5. From my point of view, the most important event that took place at the Palace of Versailles, more precisely in the Hall of Mirrors, was the signing of the treaty that ended World War I.
6. The Chapel in the palace took 28 years to complete, from 1682 to 1710, because Louis XIV demanded absolute perfection in design, construction and materials because to him it was a statement of his devotion and a statement of the church’s supremacy in France, since ultimately the kings of France held their legitimacy from the Catholic church. The Chapel which towers the roofline of the palace is by far the most notable aspect of the palace’s architecture.
7. The Queen’s bedchamber was one of the largest room in the private apartments because she was required to give birth while audience composed of reputable noblemen were attending, for reasons of legitimacy.
8. Marie Antoniette built a series of farm buildings called Le Hameau, with complete realism. This was where she could pretend to be a shepherdess or milkmaid especially if she wanted to escape the rigid etiquette and formal ceremonies. Prior to the Queen’s arrival, the cows were washed and groomed, and lambs were taken for walks with silk ribbon as leashes.
9. I learned that Jules Hardoin-Mansart was the main architect of the Palace of Versailles. The palace, more especially the royal stables, are considered to be Mansart’s masterpiece.
10. The clock at the background was built 300 years ago. It took 20 years to build it. On top of the clock is a model of the solar system. It can tell the time and it predicts the movement of the planets around the sun and the phases of the moon. It was also designed to work till 9999.
11. It took 3 years to build the kings working table. It weighs around 600 kg. The king just had to turn the key in one lock, and all the drawers would close automatically. On the side of the deck are 2 special drawers, which would open separately. Those drawers only contain paper and ink to be filled by the servants when the king was not working.
12. Etaax vilbrequim (G clamp) – Louis XV and Louis XVI were attracted to Science. Science as we know it now was not quite the same in the 16th century, during the Renaissance in Europe. It was very fashionable so even the princess and king were taught Science and Engineering.