Palace of Versailles Hall of Mirrors – history, controversy, treaties, tickets

Image: Chateauversailles.fr

The Hall of Mirrors is the most popular room in the Palace of Versailles.

The French also call it Grande Galerie or Galerie des Glaces.

More than 10 Million tourists visit the Palace of Versailles every year, and all of them see this artistic marvel called the Hall of Mirrors.

1. What is Hall of Mirrors?
2. History of the hall
3. Construction of the hall
4. Why was Hall of Mirrors built?
5. What was the hall used for?
6. Controversies about Hall of Mirrors
7. Treaties signed in the hall
8. Versailles Palace tickets

What is Hall of Mirrors?

Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles is a massive and highly decorated room made up of many mirrors.

It was the most used room during the times of the Kings.

Of everything there to see in Palace of Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors gets the most visitors.

COVID-19 UPDATE: The Palace of Versailles, Trianon Estate, Versailles Gardens, the Gallery of Coaches and Park are now open for visitors.

As a safety precaution (to avoid crowding in the ticket counter lines) visitors are advised to purchase their tickets online.

To ensure social distancing, only a limited number of visitors are allowed per day, so it is better to book your tickets in advance

>> Palace of Versailles Tickets

Masks are compulsory for everybody over the age of 11. Visitors must bring their own masks because they won’t be sold or distributed at the site.


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History of Hall of Mirrors

Compared to the history of the Palace of Versailles, the history of the Hall of Mirrors is shorter.

It wasn’t part of the Palace’s initial plan, and sometime in 1678, King Louis XIV decided to build the Hall of Mirrors.

He decided to combine a few rooms of the Kings and the Queen’s apartments and the large terrace in the Palace’s front and create one large room.

He accepted architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart’s design for the Hall of Mirrors, and work began the same year.

In six years, the Hall of Mirrors – perhaps the most beautiful room in the world – was ready for use.


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Construction of Hall of Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors is grandeur at its best.

It is entirely revolutionary for something built at the end of the 17th century – that’s almost 350 years before.

The room’s feature, which gives it its name, is the seventeen mirror-clad arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows overlooking the Versailles gardens.

Each of the seventeen arches contains twenty-one mirrors, totaling to 357 mirrors.

So, if your question is, ‘How many mirrors are in the Hall of Mirrors?’ the answer is 357.

Hall of Mirrors is 240 feet (76 meters) long and 34 feet (10.4 meters) wide.

It has a 40-feet (12.2 meters) high ceiling decorated with colorful paintings.

Charles Le Brun, a noted French artist of the period, painted 30 compositions on the vaulted ceiling depicting Louis XIV and France’s glorious history.

Image: Flickr.com

While the construction of the Hall of Mirrors may have stopped, its restoration hasn’t.


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Why was the Hall of Mirrors built?

King Louis XIV had two reasons for building the Hall of Mirrors at Palace of Versailles.

King Louis XIV didn’t like the terrace

The King thought the large terrace right on top of the Palace of Versailles entrance looked awkward. Besides, it was exposed to bad weather.

King Louis XIV wanted a ‘power’ room

At the same time, he thought he needed a room that proved to the rest of the World the artistic, political, and financial superiority of France.

Experts believe the King and his architect decided to depict the political superiority with the numerous paintings about his exploits on the ceiling.

The financial superiority got established by using 357 mirrors, which were expensive luxuries back then.

The artistic superiority was established by the sculptures, furniture, and other works of art that decorated the Hall of Mirrors.


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What was Hall of Mirror used for?

The King used the Hall of Mirror at the Palace of Versailles for various purposes.

It served as a waiting and meeting room for courtiers and visitors daily. 

This was also the room where they could catch a glimpse of the King as he walked between his numerous rooms.

The courtiers and visitors with no direct access to the King could drop in a word or pass on a note to him in the Hall of Mirrors.

It also hosted extravagant ceremonies such as royal weddings, ceremonial balls, diplomatic receptions, etc.


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Controversy about Hall of Mirrors

During the construction of the Hall of Mirrors, King Louis XIV stuck to his condition. He said, “every material used should be made in France.”

This request posed a problem for Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the architect of Hall of Mirrors.

His design for the House of Mirror needed many mirrors, and back then, Venice had a monopoly on mirrors.

As a workaround, the French managed to convince a few Venetian artisans to defect to France.

These artists built what we know today as the Hall of Mirrors.

To keep the art of mirror making a secret, the Venetian government ordered the artisans’ assassination, who had helped the French.

There is no documented proof that the assassinations were a success, but there is no proof that they didn’t succeed either.

Therefore, sometimes the Hall of Mirrors is also referred to as the ‘Hall of Bloody Mirrors.’


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Treaties signed in Hall of Mirrors

It is fair to say that the Hall of Mirrors has helped end many wars by being the spot where the treaties got signed.

For instance, in 1783, Britain and the USA signed the Treaty of Paris.

This treaty was responsible for ending the Revolutionary War. Under the terms of the treaty, Britain recognized the United States of America as an independent country.

A little less than a century later – in 1871 – France was humiliated in the Franco-Prussian war.

As France accepted its defeat at the Palace of Versailles, Kaiser Wilhelm I got hailed as the Emperor of Germany in the Hall of Mirrors.

Almost 50 years later, the Hall of Mirrors witnessed the signing of Treaty of Versailles.

Signed on 28 June 1919, it ended the war between Germany and the Allied Powers and signaled the end of World War 1.

Interestingly, after the Allied forces defeated Germany, French Prime Minister Clemenceau had chosen the Hall of Mirrors to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

He sought poetic justice and revenge for France’s surrender to Germany at the same location in 1871!

Recommended: Interesting facts about Versailles Palace


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Palace of Versailles tickets

Access to the Hall of Mirrors is included in all Palace of Versailles tickets.

Buying Palace of Versailles tickets online helps save money, time, and energy.

Many visitors opt for bus or train tours from Paris to Versailles, including access to the Palace of Versailles.

We have provided below the five ways you can explore the Palace of Versailles (and Hall of Mirrors).

If you are short of time, check out the tickets which get you access to ONLY the Palace of Versailles (Hall of Mirrors is in the Palace and is included in this ticket).

If you prefer a more elaborate experience and have at least six hours on your hands, go for the All Areas of Palace of Versailles ticket.

If you are visiting during the peak tourist season, the Fountain Shows and Musical Gardens are an added attraction. 

The Fountain Shows and Musical Gardens ticket also gets you access to the Versailles Palace and Hall of Mirrors.

Most seasoned tourists opt for a local guide to take them through. If you are one of them, check out this Skip The Line Guided tour of Versailles.

Since the Versailles Estate is 20 Kms (12 Miles) from Paris, some visitors opt for train tours to Versailles or air-conditioned coach tours to Versailles.

# Palace of Versailles
# Eiffel Tower
# Louvre Museum
# Palace of Versailles
# Disneyland Paris
# Musee d’Orsay
# Centre Pompidou
# Notre Dame
# Pantheon
# Sainte Chapelle
# Seine River Cruise
# Seine Dinner Cruise
# Arc de Triomphe

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Shobha Mahapatra: She loves traveling in groups - of friends and relatives. The destination doesn't matter much as long she has her fun group around. She loves to try the local cuisine and clothes and also builds friendships wherever she goes. Favorite Cities: Istanbul, Hanoi, Cape Town, Singapore

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