Palace of Versailles: Garden facade

Louis Le Vau and Jules Hardouin-Mansart

Looking from the Fountain of Apollo back to the garden facade of the Palace of Versailles

Behind the Latona Basin the Tapis-Vert, a long grass carpet, extends to the Grand Canal, lined on both sides by alleys, with vases and statues placed at every 30 meters. The Tapis-Vert reaches the Fountain of Apollo, or Bassin d’Apollon.

Central block of garden facade

The original garden facade by Le-Vau was comprised of this one structure with a deep set back in the center of the facade of the first floor. Unlike many French buildings with steep roofs, this palace has a flat Italianate roof with a balustrade. Hardouin-Mansart, the main architect after about 1677, altered this garden facade by adding huge wings on both sides of the central block for offices, the royal chapel, and theater taking the total length more than 600 yards. The recession in the original central block of eleven bays added some variety through varied depths; however, this terrace was filled in to accommodate the Hall of Mirrors.

Twenty-five bays wide--mathematical regularity

The three story elevation features a slightly rusticated ground floor, a main floor with large arched windows with unfluted pilasters with elaborate Ionic capitals, and an attic level with small rectangular windows with pilasters. Occasional variety is introduced by grouped bays, slightly advanced, with shallow porches with columns.

Left: typical bay with ground floor and first floor arched windows; figural keystone of the ground floor arch; decorative grillwork on the ground level on the far right facade


Western terrace: statue of Silenus and his foster child Dionysus

Silenus, son of Hermes, was god of the dance of the wine-press. The divine child Dionysus, born from the thigh of Zeus, was brought to Silenus who raised him in a cave on the mythical mountain of Nysa. This is one of four bronze statues cast by the Keller brothers from classical works, in 1684-1685.

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© 2008 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.