The Palace of Versailles is a World Heritage Site that was once the abode of French royalty. Initially, the location served as a hunting ground for King Henry IV and his young son, Louis XIII. The palace and the surrounding gardens were built later on upon the request of the king. It was in 1661, under the guidance of Louis XIV, that construction on the palace started. Today, the Palace of Versailles is a top tourist spot, bringing in more than 8 million visitors from around the globe per year, according to Vogue.
One of the main attractions of the palace grounds is the garden, boasting of fountains, statues, flower beds, and a grand canal. According to Chateau Versailles, work on the garden started at the same time as the palace. Louis XIV gave landscape architect André Le Nôtre the responsibility to create the extensive garden, and he had the title Controller General of the King’s Garden.
Le Nôtre collaborated with the First Painter to the King, Charles Le Brun; Superintendent of Buildings to the King, Jean-Baptiste Colbert; and First Architect to the King, Jules Hardouin-Mansart for the massive garden project. The task was not as easy as planting greenery and installing water features. It was an enormous job that required plenty of planning, not to mention the manpower needed to bring the plans to fruition.
Features of the palace gardens
What once was an expanse of grasslands and marshes was transformed into a massive garden. Thousands of men worked on the project. Trees were brought in from different locations in France, flowers were planted, canals and pools were added, and sculptures were erected in different areas (via Versailles Palace Tickets.) The water features of the gardens have a great significance, according to art historian Tea Gudek Snajder. He described the marvelous gardens as a symbol of Louis XIV’s sheer power, according to Live Science.
One of the features of the Versailles gardens is the Latona Fountain, which consists of sculptures depicting scenes from the poem “Metamorphoses” by Ovid. The walkways have an expanse of green grass, called the Green Carpet, adorned by trees. The garden also has an Orangerie, filled with over a thousand orange, lemon, and pomegranate trees, according to Britannica.
Versailles’ garden needs to be maintained in order to keep its grandeur. Replanting is a must every hundred years, and according to Chateau Versailles, this was done at the time of Louis XVI, and then during Napoleon III’s reign. The garden was destroyed in a destructive storm in 1999, but was restored as close as possible to how it originally looked. With the beauty and grandeur to match the palace, it’s no wonder it took more than 40 years to complete the Versailles Palace gardens.
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