Palace of Versailles
A marvelous piece of French 17th Century art, the gardens and fountains of the Palace of Versailles have been listed as a World Heritage since 1979. It was the old hunting pavilion of King Louis XIII, later, his son Louis XIV transformed the pavilion and established the Court and government here in 1682.
Since Louis XVI was forced to leave the Palace during the Frech Revolution, in 1789, the Palace of over two thousand rooms had never been a royal residence then. On the orders of King Louis Phillipe, the Palace was opened for the public to showcase its richness in 1837. Thus, it stands today as a repository of paintings, sculpture as well as showcasing its marvellous gardens and fountains.
The Fountains at Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is home to some of the most breathtaking and mesmerizing fountains in the world. These fountains held indispensable importance in French architecture and attracted many from around the globe to witness beauty.
The Four Season Fountain- it was built in the 1670s and is dedicated to the four seasons of the year. The Spring and Summer Fountain are to the North and Autumn and Winter Fountain are to the South. One of the most iconic fountains at the Palace of Versailles, it displays a perfect symmetry from the end of Latopna’s Parterre and entrance to Royal Way.
Fountains of the Fight of the Animals- This fountain was designed by Jules Hardouin Mansart in 1687 and portrays an excellent and impressive picture of realism. The North of this fountain features a Lion defeating a wolf and wild boar, and in the South, a tiger defeating a bear and a bloodhound bringing down a stag can be witnessed, which gives the viewers an enthralling experience. Also, the water jet of the victorious animal fell in the upper basin, whereas that of the defeated animal in the lower basin, which clearly depicted the rule of power.
Dragon Fountain- Dragon fountain entertains a tale from the legend of Apollo, in which young Apollo brings down a serpent with his arrow. The reptile, surrounded by dolphins and Loves armed with arrows and riding swans, is an excellent piece of work.
This fountain is a symbol of courage and strength, along with its mesmerizing architecture.The main water jet reaches the height of 27 metres, the tallest amongst other fountains and is a beautiful architectural wonder.
Latona’s Fountian- The popular story of Latona, mother of Apollo and Diana, has been symbolised in one of the most mesmerizing fountains at the Palace of Versailles. In the story Latona requests planet Jupiter to protect her children from the insults of peasants of Lycia.
The 24 frogs sculpted around the 6 figures of peasants represent the inhabitants of Lycia who were turned into frogs by Jupiter. Its construction desgin has been inspired by ‘The Metamorphoses’ by Ovide.
Neptune Fountain- Constructed between 1679 and 1682 under the supervision of Le Notre it is famously known as the Lake below the Dragon Fountian or Lake of the Pines. The defining features of the fountain are its sculptures composed of three groups such as ‘Neptune and Amphitrite’, ‘Proteus’ and ‘Oceanus’.
Gardens at the Palace of Versailles
Most of the gardens at the Palace of Versailles were meticulously constructed by Andre Le Notre, the talented architect of the era. Gardens surround the main building of the palace and are adorned with ornamental basins and bronze statues making them an absolute sight to marvel over.
Queen’s Grove- This groove was a replacement to the famous Labyrinth Grove, installed in 1665-1666 and later enhanced with represenations of animals from Aesop’s fables, giving it a lifelike touch. This groove is simple yet elegant in its design and was given a revised layout to focus on the newly founded tree, the Virginia tulip tree.
Ballroom Grove- Designed as an amphitheatre of greenery, the groove was inaugurated by tHe Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV. It’s shaped in a circle with THE central arena looking like a small island surrounded by a canal on two levels. The cascade has eight stairs decorated with grass and giving the garden a dreamy outlook.
Colonnade Grove- It replaced the Spring Grove constructed by Le Notre in 1679 with a design of Jules Hardouin Mansart. Built in a circular peristyle it has 32 ionic columns made of Languedoc marble. The pool of the groove located at the centre was replaced in 1696 with a group sculpture of Giardon’s ‘The Abduction of Proserpine by Pluto’.
Enceladus Grove- One of the most beautiful gardens at the Palace of Versailles, Enceladus’s Grove was built by Garspard Marsy between 1675 to 1677. Its design has been borrowed from the fall of the Titans, so the giant sculptor of Enceladus is displayed half-buried under a pile of rocks and struggling to survive. Jules Hardouin Mansart had modified the design of the grove in 1706 and converted it into an open garden from an enclosed one.