Art Friday: Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles
Last weekend I attended an exhibition of 130 pieces of art, sculpture, carpets, tapestries and other treasures from the Palace of Versailles. It is very rare for anything from this grand palace to leave France, so Australia has been very fortunate to see these beautiful masterpieces. Even this very small selection showed the opulence of this grand palace.
- The palace was built in the 17th century for King Louis XIV, The Sun King, who was France’s King at the time. It took 36,000 workers to construct the palace, along with its gardens. After its completion, it could accommodate as many as 5,000 people at a time.
- The Palace of Versailles has a total number of 2,153 windows, 1,200 fireplaces, 700 rooms, over 67 staircases.
- The palace itself contains 67,002 square metres (721,206 square feet) of floor space.
- The Palace of Versailles was decorated with valuable paintings and works of art. It contained an estimated 6,000 paintings and 5,000 pieces of furniture and other objects.
- The gardens of Versailles have approximately 400 sculptures.
- The kitchens of the palace alone had hundreds of servants, in spite of which the King’s meals were often served cold, due to the distance between the kitchen and the dining room.
- Actual building costs for Versailles are debated by modern historians, because currency values are uncertain. However, Versailles’ price tag ranges anywhere from two billion dollars (in 1994 USD) all the way up to a maximum cost of $299,520,000,000!
- The Palace of Versailles cover an area of 8,150,265 square meters (87,728,720 square feet), or 2,014 acres, making it the World’s Largest Royal Domain.
- The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France for little more than a century (from 1682 until 1789) when the French Revolution began.
- The palace was almost destroyed during the French Revolution, as a result of which, its importance and utility decreased.
- The Garden of Versailles is spread across 1,976 acres, and is one of the biggest gardens in the world. 210,000 flowers and 200,000 trees are planted annually in The Garden of Versailles. In 1979, the gardens along with the château were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- The marvel of the gardens of Versailles – then as now – is the fountains. It has 50 spectacular fountains with 620 jets, which were installed to entertain the guests. A lot of these fountains still use the same hydraulics network, which was built by the Royal Family. King Louis XIV spent one third of the total building budget of the palace, on its fountains alone.