Gardens of Palace of Versailles

Versailles Gardens | Masterpiece of Landscape Design

The Gardens of Versailles is a masterpiece of landscape architecture that was commissioned by Louis XIV and designed by André Le Nôtre in the 17th century. The gardens span over 800 hectares and feature geometric parterres, grand fountains, and tree-lined pathways. The project was started in 1661 and its construction spanned over 40 years. Key figures like Jean-Baptiste Colbert and Charles Le Brun designed many statues and fountains for the King to review.

The central window in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles offers a view of the Grande Perspective, an east-west axis. Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the First Architect to the King, later built the Orangery and refined the park’s layout with some alterations to the groves for better visual appeal. Creating these gardens involved significant earthmoving to level the ground, create parterres, and dig out fountains and the Grand Canal, transforming meadows and marshes. Trees were imported from various French regions, and thousands of workers, including entire regiments, participated in this monumental task.

The gardens required replanting approximately every 100 years to maintain their design. Louis XVI initiated this process at the start of his reign, followed by Napoleon III. After suffering extensive damage from several storms in the late 20th century, notably in December 1999, the gardens were fully replanted. Today, they present a rejuvenated appearance akin to their original state during Louis XIV's era.

Parterres and Paths

The Gardens of Versailles are known for their intricate parterres and paths that beautifully reflect the grandeur of the palace. The Water Parterre is located at the foot of the Hall of Mirrors and features two large pools. These pools are bordered by four bronze figures - The Loire and The Loiret , The Rhône and The Saône, The Seine and The Marne and The Garonne and The Dordogne.

The North Parterre has two large circular pools which lead to the Pyramid Fountain, a stunning structure with tiered basins and Tritons. The South Parterre, also known as the Flower Garden, offers picturesque views of the Orangery Parterre. At the centre of the Versailles Gardens is Latona's Parterre which illustrates the myth of Latona.

It was restored to its original 17th-century design in 2015. André Le Nôtre was the mastermind behind these designs who harmonized natural elements like light, and shade, and intricate plant patterns to create these stunning parterres and paths.

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The Orangery

The Orangery at Versailles is located just below the Palace and is a masterpiece by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. It was built initially by Louis Le Vau in 1663 and was later expanded by Hardouin-Mansart to create a grand structure in double the original size. The central gallery spans over 150 meters with a 13-meter-high vaulted ceiling and is flanked by side galleries under the Hundred Steps staircases. The thick walls, double windows, and south-facing orientation keep the temperature above 5°C in winter and provide a perfect environment for the trees. 

Louis XIV stocked the Orangery with orange trees from royal estates and newly acquired ones from Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Courtiers often gifted orange trees to the King and thus contributed to the largest collection in Europe. 

The Orangery parterre now spans three hectares and is open to the public. It features four grass sections and a circular pool. During summer, 1055 containers with orange, palm, oleander, pomegranate, and Eugenia trees are displayed outside/ During winters, they are housed inside to preserve their beauty and historical significance.

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The Groves

The groves of Versailles are small gardens, enclosed by walls of greenery or trellises and accessed by discreet paths. They served as venues for many court entertainments and were adorned with fountains, vases, and statues. Under Louis XIV, there were fifteen groves, each with unique designs and decorations. Le Nôtre created most of them, but some were modified by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. However, maintenance costs led to the deterioration and disappearance of several groves by the 18th century.

The Queen's Grove, originally the Labyrinth Grove, features a Virginia tulip tree and was restored recently. The Ballroom Grove includes a cascade and an island for dancing. The Girandole and Dauphin's Groves were created in 1663 and were restored in 2000. The Colonnade Grove showcases a circular peristyle with marble columns and fountains. The Chestnut Grove replaced an earlier grove with ancient sculptures. Other notable groves include the Enceladus Grove which features a fountain of the fallen Titan, and the Obelisk Grove and is known for its cascading water jets. 

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The Walks

The Gardens of Versailles is built around two primary axes - the north-south and east-west. The Water Walk, also known as the Infant’s Walk is a key feature in the north-south axis and was constructed in 1664. It starts at the Neptune Fountain and extends to the Orangery and Lake of the Swiss Guards. The walk looks magnificent and features 14 fountains depicting children, tritons, and satyrs. These fountains were originally made of lead and later cast in bronze with basins of red Languedoc marble.

The east-west axis, known as the Grande Perspective bisects the gardens symmetrically. It begins at Leto's Fountain, traverses through the Royal Way and ends at the Grand Canal. The Royal Way dates back to Louis XIII's era and ends at Apollo’s Fountain. It was Initially designed to be a narrow, steep alley and was later widened and leveled in 1665. Under Louis XVI, horse chestnut trees were added. The alley features several amazing sculptures like Milo of Croton and Perseus and Andromeda, by Puget.

The King's Garden Grove was created in 1817, replacing the swampy Royal Isle Fountain under the orders of Louis XVIII to improve the drainage and aesthetics of the garden.

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The Fountains

The fountains of Versailles are a spectacular showcase of Baroque artistry and mythology and reflect the grandeur of the French monarchy. The Four Seasons Fountains were created between 1672 and 1679 and depict the deities Flora, Ceres, Bacchus, and Saturn. The Fountains of the Fight of the Animals is another interesting fountain crafted in 1687.

It illustrates the dramatic animal battles with intricate sculptures. The Dragon Fountain represents Apollo's victory over Python and the central jet here reaches 27 meters. The Neptune Fountain was finished in the 1740s and features 99 jets and a variety of marine sculptures. Latona's Fountain is centered on the myth of Latona and her children and showcases her transformation of Lycian peasants into frogs.

Apollo's Fountain is one of the most beautiful fountains at Versailles Gardens and it depicts Apollo rising from the sea in his chariot. The Mirror Pool is a serene pool that is surrounded by lush green lawns and trees. The Nymphs' Bath here is fed by the waters of the Pyramid Fountains and is adorned with bas-reliefs.


The Gardens of Versailles houses 386 artworks, including 221 sculptures and hence, it is the largest open-air sculpture museum in the world. Early sculptures installed in the Versailles Gardens celebrated love and gallantry, while later works focused on Apollo, the sun god. The first group of sculptures, created in 1664 included stone figures of fauns, dancers, and nymphs, depicting a burlesque and amorous mood. In the later years, sculptures depicting Apollo's life and his role as the controller of the cosmos, reinforcing the king's power were created.

The Great Commission of 1674 saw the creation of marble figures representing elements and times of the day portraying the king's image as a universal ruler. Post-1678, themes shifted to celebrate the king's victories, and new groves were created. By 1682, antiquity-inspired sculptures, including Roman replicas, became prominent, turning Versailles into an open-air museum. Bronze sculptures, representing French rivers and fighting animals, were added later, symbolizing national territory. In Louis XIV's later years, playful putti and child figures appeared, reflecting a spirit of joy and relaxation.

Explore Palace Of Versailles

Explore Palace Of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles, located in France, is an iconic testament to opulence and grandeur. Constructed in the 17th century under the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, it served as the principal royal residence and symbol of absolute monarchy. Its exquisite architecture, ornate interiors, and sprawling gardens are awe-inspiring. The Hall of Mirrors, a highlight, is adorned with countless mirrors and chandeliers, reflecting the palace's extravagance. Versailles played a pivotal role in history, hosting the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, ending World War I. Today, it stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a global cultural treasure, attracting millions of visitors annually who come to marvel at its historical significance and architectural splendor.

FAQs of Versailles

What do the Gardens at Versailles symbolize?

The Gardens at Versailles symbolize the power and grandeur of Louis XIV and reflect his control over nature and his kingdom. It was designed by André Le Nôtre and blends meticulous planning, artistic mastery, and lavish decoration. The use of mythological themes, particularly Apollo, reinforces Louis XIV's image as the Sun King. The gardens also showcase French artistic achievement and serve as a testament to the cultural and political dominance of France in the 17th century.

What Gardens are at Versailles?

The Gardens at Versailles have the Orangery with many citrus and exotic trees, and groves like the Queen's Grove and Ballroom Grove. Other notable groves are the Enceladus Grove, Obelisk Grove, Apollo's Baths Grove, Star Grove, Water Theatre Grove, and Grove of the Three Fountains. Each grove is uniquely designed, showcasing the artistic and horticultural mastery of André Le Nôtre and Jules Hardouin-Mansart.

Why was the Garden of Versailles built?

The Garden of Versailles was built to symbolize the absolute power and grandeur of Louis XIV, the Sun King. It was designed by André Le Nôtre and showcased the king's control over nature and his kingdom. The garden was also intended for royal enjoyment and court entertainments and blends artistic mastery with elaborate landscaping. It reflected the cultural and political dominance of France and promoted French artistic achievements reinforcing the king's divine right to rule.

What is Versailles famous for?

Versailles is famous for its opulent Palace and expansive Gardens. The Palace, with its Hall of Mirrors, showcases lavish Baroque architecture and art. The Gardens were designed by André Le Nôtre and feature intricate landscaping, fountains, and sculptures. Versailles is also renowned for its historical significance and has hosted major events like the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I. It remains a symbol of French cultural heritage and royal extravagance.

How many gardens are there in Versailles?

There are more than 15 exquisite gardens in Versailles.

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How long did it take to build the Gardens of Versailles?

It took more than 40 years to build the Palace of Versailles Gardens.

Who built Versailles Gardens?

The Versailles Gardens were primarily built by André Le Nôtre, a renowned landscape architect, under the direction of King Louis XIV. Le Nôtre designed the gardens with meticulous attention to symmetry, perspective, and grandeur. His effort transformed the royal estate into a symbol of absolute power and opulence. Jules Hardouin-Mansart later contributed to expanding and enhancing the gardens. Their collaborative efforts resulted in one of the most famous and elaborate garden landscapes in the world. 

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Can you walk the Gardens of Versailles?

Yes, you can walk the Gardens of Versailles. They are open to the public and offer numerous pathways to explore the beautiful landscapes, fountains, and groves. You can stroll through the Grand Perspective, admire the Orangery, and discover various groves like the Queen's Grove and Colonnade Grove. The gardens are accessible year-round with special events like the Fountain Shows and Musical Gardens. As you walk through the gardens, you can appreciate their historical and artistic significance.

How many garden walks are at Versailles?

The Gardens of Versailles has several notable walks like the Grand Perspective, the Royal Walk, the Water Walk, and the Queen's Walk. These primary pathways guide you through the expansive grounds, connecting key features such as the Grand Canal, Latona Fountain, Apollo Fountain, and the Orangery. Additionally, there are many smaller, discreet paths that lead to various groves and hidden areas within the gardens. 

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Are the gardens at Versailles entry-free?

Yes, entry to the gardens at Versailles is free, except on days when the Musical Fountains Show or Musical Gardens events are held. On these special days, there is an admission fee to enjoy the enhanced experience of the gardens set to music with active fountain displays. Visitors can explore the grand pathways, fountains, groves, and the Orangery. The gardens are open year-round, offering a magnificent outdoor experience reflecting the grandeur of French landscape design.


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