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Ten things you probably did not know about the château de Versailles… – Party like 1660

Ten things you probably did not know about the château de Versailles…

Versailles, home to Kings, Queens and a whole lot of nobles. Millions of people visit the château every year and are in awe at the sight of its splendour. Here are ten more or less known facts about the château de Versailles.

Galerie des Glaces


-The Opéra royal de Versailles was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel and inaugurated on 16 May in 1770 as part of the marriage celebrations of the future Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The opera is constructed almost entirely of wood, painted to resemble marble with a technique called faux marble, which creates excellent acoustics. The first opera performed there was Persée by Jean-Baptiste Lully. It was written in 1682, the very year the Sun King made Versailles the official seat of government.

-The gardens of Versailles feature 55 fountains with over 600 water jets. The Neptune Fountain alone has 99 water jets. The currently highest water jet is part of the Dragon Fountain and can reach a high of 27 metres.

-The château has 2300 rooms, 67 staircases, around 1200 fireplaces and over 300 statues.

-During the time Versailles was a royal residence, everyone was allowed to enter it, provided one was properly dressed. The men had to wear hats and rapiers, which could be rented at the gates.

-Versailles had a own sedan chair taxi service. One could rent a sedan chair at the gates to travel the distance from gates to the doors of the château .

-Lighting a palace as huge as Versailles with candles was rather expensive. Although tallow candles were available and relatively cheap, only pure wax candles were used. They were way more expensive, but did not produce smoke, which was better for all the art kept at Versailles. At some special occasions, the Galerie des Glaces was lit by 20000 candles.

-The Galerie des Glaces was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and features 17 mirror-clad arches that reflect the 17 arcaded windows with garden view. Each arch contains 21 mirrors, making a total of 357 mirrors. The Galerie is 73 metres long, 10.5 metres wide and 12.3 metres high, with nearly 1000 square metres of paintings.

-The château has nearly 2150 windows. The total of glass surfaces, including windows, skylights and mirrors, is estimated to be 18000 square metres.

-The number of Versailles’ inhabitants varied depending on the seasons and whether large court entertainments or receptions were held. It is estimated that around 4000 people, including the royal family, officers, guards, normal staff, nobles and their servants, lived in the château and its attached buildings towards the end of Louis XIV’s reign.

-The first big party at Versailles was celebrated in May 1664 and called les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée. It lasted a week.

Further reading: Five things you probably did not know about Louis XIV