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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC


17th century

With the Hall of Mirrors, the gardens are the most famous features of Versailles.

Of the multiple billions it cost to build the palace, it's estimated that 30% went into the gardens.

Only 10% of the original 8,000 hectares of gardens still exist today.

The gardens had more than 1,000 fountains - which presented engineers with a massive challenge!

Versailles consumed more water than Paris - guzzling more than 12,000 cubic meters a day - and drained all the ponds in the area.

A massive machine, the Machine of Marly, was built, pumping water directly from the Seine and bringing it over via an aqueduct.

It took 3 years to build.

It had 250 pumps, gigantic 11m-diameter wheels and 60 staff working it... but it still wasn't enough.

Gardeners adopted a much more rudimentary system.

They would whistle at each other when the king approached - so they could switch the fountains on and off!

Like most artworks at Versailles, the fountains had a symbolic function.

The Fountain of Latona for example, represents an episode when Latona and her children, Apollo and Artemis, were thrown rocks by local peasants before being turned into frogs by Zeus - a reminder that Louis XIV (who often saw himself in Apollo) had absolute power over his subjects.

The Fountain of Apollo (Greek god of sun, youth, light, beauty and art - and one of Louis XIV's favourite symbols) represents Apollo riding into the sky on his chariot.

You also cannot miss the Grand Canal.

Measuring a massive 60m by 1.5km, it would have been full of boats - including a caravel, a galley and a frigate.

Louis XIV even had barracks built near the canal to house all the sailors and workers!