The Gardens of Versailles are arguably among the most famous and impressive gardens in the world. Although their origins lie in the days of King Louis XIII, they are inextricably linked with the name of his great son Louis XIV. After the Peace of Aachen, he felt it was time to give an inward sign of the greatness of his reign and therefore gave orders to expand his father’s former hunting lodge into the largest palace complex of its time.
In 1677 Louis XIV announced that Versailles would be the future seat of government, and in 1682 the entire court was finally moved into the new palace. But like the palace itself, the gardens were to be a project to which he devoted himself throughout his reign and yet which was never completed during his lifetime.
Nevertheless, the gardens were impressive even then and set the style for the entire era. This was due in no small part to the landscape designer André Le Nôtre, on whose commission forests were cleared, swamps drained and entire hills removed and re-piled elsewhere. Under his hand, thousands of workers were employed to bring in trees from all over France, plant flowerbeds, build fountains and canals and give the garden the appearance that can still be admired today.