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15 Absolutely Insane Facts About The Palace of Versailles

Updated July 1, 2020 1.1m views15 items

The Palace of Versailles is known for its opulent rooms, extravagant gardens, and the integral role it played in the French Revolution. Every year, more than three million visitors tour the Palace that was built for the Sun King, Louis XIV, in 1623 CE. A few of the biggest draws at the Palace are the Hall of Mirrors, the Chappelle Royale, and the Salon de Venus. On the grounds are priceless works of art as well as period furniture and statues. And for outdoor lovers, there are numerous plants, flowers, fountains, and statues to view while perusing the lush gardens on the property. Like other opulent and historically significant structures (like the Taj Majal, for example), Versailles's architectural history is filled with interesting anecdotes, like the time all of its mirror makers were killed for doing their job too well.

There are many stories about the building of Versailles and the amount of money and work it took to create such an elaborate structure, which dates back to the 17th century and is located about 12 miles from Paris. You can imagine how much time and effort it took to create the massive Palace, which would become the envy of many foreign visitors from the 1600s up until today. In fact, the Palace became such a symbol of wealth and excess - though hygiene left something to be desired - that the people of France were disgusted by everything it represented, leading them to revolt. The excesses of Versailles, in part, drove the French Revolution.

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  • The Craftsmen Who Built The Mirrors For The Hall Of Mirrors Faced A Penalty Of Death

    Photo: Public Domain / Pixabay

    There are 357 mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors. When it was built, Venice had a monopoly on making mirrors, but France was not deterred by this fact and enticed Venetian mirror makers to make some specially for the Palace. The craftsmen were later ordered to be assassinated by the Italians for giving away their secrets (sources vary on whether they went through with this or if it was merely a threat). The room was originally lit with as many 20,000 candles, transforming it into a “corridor of light.” During World War I, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall in 1919. It ended the war between Germany and the Allied Powers.

  • The Palace Was Originally A Hunting Lodge

    Photo: Public Domain / Pixabay

    Louis XIII (1601-1643) originally bought the land where the Palace stands today because he loved hunting. Initially, he built a chateau there for an escape from the city – drawn by the area's richness in wild animals. Louis expanded the chateau and bought more land before his death. In the 1660s and 1670s, Louis XIV turned Versailles into a palace. He even moved the French government and its court there in 1682. When Versailles was completed, over 5,000 people, including servants, could be accommodated in its large living space.

  • The Garden's Fountains Were Advanced For Their Time

    Photo: Public Domain / Pixabay

    The Gardens' water fountains were pressurized and jetted water high into the air, causing quite a spectacle for guests. However, due to issues with water supply, they were only turned on during special occasions, according to Tony Spawforth, author of Versailles: A Biography of the Palace. The Gardens included over 50 spectacular fountains with 620 jets. Today, many of the fountains (of which there were originally 1,400) include the same hydraulic systems from over 300 years ago.

  • The King Ate Cold Meals Due To The Kitchen's Distance From His Dining Room

    Photo: Public Domain / Pixabay

    The Palace could accommodate over 5,000 people between its walls – that's a lot of mouths to feed. In order to serve meals to so many people, the kitchens at the Palace were enormous. They – alone – were attended to by hundreds of servants. However, the kitchens were located quite a distance from the King’s dining room. As a result, his meals were often served cold. The architect didn't think ahead with that not-so-minor detail.