The Queen’s Marble Staircase is also known simply as the Marble Staircase. When you reach the top of the Marble Staircase you will enter the Queen’s Guards’ Room and thus enter her apartments. The staircase derives its name from the incredible amounts of marble that went into the building of the staircase. Beautifully gilded reliefs of bronze has been added above the doors – one of them is adorned with two sphinxes and dates back to 1681. Golden engravings continue all the way near the ceiling and includes the arms of France flanked by palm leaves and the iconic fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy. Red, white and black marble has been used to make out the foundation of the staircase. Occasionally pilasters are crowned with golden tops.
This is Versailles
The Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) is a gallery occupying the first floor of the aile du Midi of the Palace of Versailles, joining onto the grand and petit appartements de la reine. 120 metres long and 13 metres wide (390 ft. x 43 ft.), it is an epigone of the grand gallery of the Louvre and was intended to glorify French military history from the Battle of Tolbiac (traditionally dated 496) to the Battle of Wagram (5–6 July 1809).
The Hall of Mirrors, the most famous room in the Palace, was built to replace a large terrace designed by the architect Louis Le Vau, which opened onto the garden. The terrace originally stood between the King’s Apartments to the north and the Queen’s to the south, but was awkward and above all exposed to bad weather, and it was not long before the decision was made to demolish it. Le Vau’s successor, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, produced a more suitable design that replaced the terrace with a large gallery. Work started in 1678 and ended in 1684.
Courtiers and visitors crossed the Hall of Mirrors daily, and it also served as a place for waiting and meeting. It was used for ceremonies on rare occasions, for example when sovereigns wanted an extra dash of lavishness for entertainment (balls or games) held for royal weddings or diplomatic receptions. During the latter events, the throne was placed on a platform at the end of the hall near the Peace Room, whose arch was closed off. Rarely has the show of power reached such a level of ostentation. In 1685 the Doge of Genoa and the ambassadors of Siam (1686), Persia (1715) and the Ottoman Empire (1742) crossed the full length of the gallery, under the scutiny of the French Court seated to either side on tiered seating, before they reached the king.
The salon de l’œil de bœuf or Antechamber of the Œil-de-Bœuf was formed in 1701 by combining two adjacent rooms, the deuxième antichambre and chambre du roi. The salon de l’œil de bœuf became the main antechamber to the King’s Bedroom, which was also created that year. Taking its name from the œil de bœuf (oval) window located in the south cove of the ceiling, the salon de l’œil de bœuf features a gilt-stucco running frieze that decorated the cove of the room’s ceiling and features a trellis-work background on which are groups of dancing putti. It is the decoration of the cove that heralds a transition from the formalistic style that was used in the decoration of the grand appartement du roi and the Hall of Mirrors to a more relaxed style that anticipated the style Louis XV. Louis XIV spared no expense in decorating this room. Mirrors, “The Fainting of Ester” and “Judith with the head of Holofernes” by Veronese hung as pendants, and gilt furniture all contributed to making this one of the most sumptuous rooms in the appartement du roi.
The second antechamber in the royal apartment, the Bull’s Eye Antechamber, is named after the circular window which brings light into the room on the southern side. This room was originally divided into two by a partition wall and was composed of the antechamber and the King’s Chamber, in which the bed was placed in the left-hand corner next to the current fireplace. Frustrated by the small size of these rooms, which could barely contain all the courtiers in attendance when he got up and when he went to bed, Louis XIV decided to knock down the wall in 1701 and combine the two rooms into one. He moved his bedroom into the following room, which at the time was just a salon.
The Bull’s Eye Antechamber occupies a strategic position in the Royal Apartment. To the north it leads to the King’s Chamber; to the west, the tall glass windows open directly onto the Hall of Mirrors , enabling courtiers to enter and leave the King’s Apartment; a door in the southern wall to the right of the window leads to the Queen’s Apartment, while a staircase in the eastern wall leads to the Dauphin’s Apartment on the ground floor.
As in the preceding rooms, the decoration in this room testifies to changes in the king’s personal taste. With the start of the new century he abandoned rich marble decoration and painted ceilings and replaced them with white ceilings and gilded woodwork. A frieze depicting children’s games runs along the cornice.