Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Episode 83: Versailles

A Brief History of the Chateau de Versailles

Started as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII in 1624, it was expanded to one of the largest palaces in the world at the time by Louis XIV. Then the French court was moved from Paris to Versailles in 1682. Prominent French architects, Le Vau, Le NĂ´tre, and Le Brun all worked on the palace which was built in four building campaigns under Louis XIV:

1.       1664-1668 – Expanded to accommodate a party of 600 guests in 1664
2.       1669-1672 – Le Vau enclosed the original hunting lodge on the North, West and South
3.       1678-1684 –Jules Hardouin-Mansart designed the North and South wings, the 
          Orangery and the famous Hall of Mirrors. Le Brun helped design much of the interior. 
          He also worked on the gardens with Le Notre
4.       1699-1710 – The royal chapel designed by Hardouin-Mansart and finished by Robert           de Cotte.

Louis XV worked on expanding the Chateau as well but did not do nearly as much as Louis XIV. One of the most famous additions during his time was the Petite Trianon, later to be known as Marie Antoinette’s estate.

Petite Trianon

During the French Revolution in the late 1700’s the royal court was forced back to Les Tuileries palace in Paris. In the years following, much of the furnishings and artworks were sold or auctioned off (though the ‘important’ ones were not). The palace suffered during this time.

During the time of Napoleon the palaces was used once again (though not by Napoleon himself).

Around 1833, Louis-Philippe proposed that a grand museum be housed in the Palace of Versailles

Today the museum is still there and other French government business is still conducted there.  

Plan of the gardens of Versailles

Prominent Rooms:

King's Chambers
Queen's Bedroom

The Queen's Hamlet - built specifically for Marie Antoinette

Hall of Mirrors
17 mirror clad arches 357 mirrors in total. The ceiling is decorated with the triumphs of Louis XIV.


Fun Facts:
All the materials to build and decorate the palace were made in France.
2,300 Rooms
67,000 square meters! 

Next week Julia and Jo talk about Architecturally Beautiful Museums. See ya next week!

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