Approach Versailles, the palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV, and prepare to be in the presence of magnificence. The entire ensemble of the vast building, its entrance, state rooms and gardens were carefully planned to reinforce the grandeur of the monarch. Built from the 1660s to the 1680s, this great enterprise in monumental construction involved thousands of craftsmen under the direction of the King’s artistic team: the architect, Louis Le Vau, the painter, Charles Le Brun and the landscape designer, Andre Le Notre. The first view for a visitor to Versailles was the entrance to the palace by three radiating avenues terminating at the main gate, which opened on to the Place d’Armes. Beyond this forecourt lay the Golden Gate of the King and the Court of Honor. This sequence of gilded gates prepared all guests, whether high and mighty ambassadors or those of less exalted status, to enter the presence of a king who ruled, he truly believed, by divine right. All of the arts of architecture, sculpture and ironwork were dedicated to creating an entrance of unparalleled beauty, craftsmanship and splendor. The Golden Gate became such a powerful symbol of the king that it was torn down during the French Revolution and only restored in 2008/2009. These images of gilded wrought iron have inspired my historical fiction novel, set in 17th century France, which will be published in the Fall of 2016.
DETAIL. THE MASK OF THE SUN GOD APOLLO, USED BY LOUIS XIV FOR HIS PERSONAL SYMBOL AS THE SUN KING. PHOTO: JOHN TSCHIRCH