• LOCATION 39 | Hidden Messages from the Sun King: A Guide to the Palace of Versailles' Gardens

    Saturne fountain

    Saturne fountain on Versailles, Yvelines audio tour Hidden Messages from the Sun King: A Guide to the Palace of Versailles' Gardens

    Stop once you reach the fountain.

    A winged old man holding a giant sack is seated before you. His weathered face makes him look like Father Time. Four cherubs scrounge around among shellfish. One holds a carnaval mask for mardi gras. Another blows on the fire with a bellows. Is there nothing on land for them to eat at this time of year?

    The central figure is Saturn, older than the gods, he's a titan who fathered Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, and Ceres. Fearful of a prophecy that one of his children would overthrow him, he swallowed them all, except for Jupiter. His wife fooled Saturn, giving him a sack with a giant stone inside, telling Saturn it was his son. Jupiter was raised in secret to maturity, escaping his father's familial cannibalism. When he was strong enough, Jupiter came back to defeat dear old dad. Before casting him out of Olympus, he first made Saturn regurgitate all his brothers and sisters to rule the world with him.

    The ancients celebrated Saturn at the Winter solstice, so that's the season represented here.

    Let's get moving. I'll take you into another wood now, but if you're intrigued by the open space just South of you, you may take a short detour. You can walk down the Allée de l'Hiver or 'Winter's Way' about 100m and observe the Mirror Pool on your left and the King's Garden on your right. Both were originally one large pond with a plot of earth in the middle which was called, if you can believe it, "Love Island." They're worth a look, but they don't follow the theme of our tour. Directions to the next wood depart from Saturn's fountain.

    Standing with your back to the way we came from the Wood of the Sconce, and Saturn on your left, take the small diagonal path at about 1 o'clock on your right. It's the exit which is closest to his left wing.

    If you're unsure, there's a photo of it now on your screen.

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Hidden Messages from the Sun King: A Guide to the Palace of Versailles' Gardens