• LOCATION 36 | Hidden Messages from the Sun King: A Guide to the Palace of Versailles' Gardens

    Three busts facing East

    Three busts facing East on Versailles, Yvelines audio tour Hidden Messages from the Sun King: A Guide to the Palace of Versailles' Gardens

    You're coming to another opening with three busts facing eastward. Linger here to get a good look at them all. The first one on your right with flowers in her hair is the last of the four seasons we'll be visiting. I'll keep you in suspense for now.

    Turn your attention to the guy on the left. This is a hulk of a man, looking more like the Hercules we're familiar with. He's bearing evidence of at least three of his 12 labors. His bulging right arm holds a bludgeoning club. His left hand holds three golden apples. A lion's pelt is draped over his left arm. The realistic detail of the article is so delicate, I struggle to believe it's carved in stone. I wonder if that's the lion's tail again around his waist, or if it is Hippolyta's belt, the 9th of his 12 labors.

    The central figure to your right is, to me, the most captivating in this wood. A snake, symbolising prudence, slithers up her abdomen. A protective banner drapes over her torso, bearing the head of a rival she transformed into Medusa. She is wearing a battle helmet which can partly shade her determined and unperturbed expression. This is Minerva, goddess of war, born fully armed from Jupiter's skull. Louis XIV likely admired her as the goddess of wisdom, protector of the arts, and counselor to ambitious heros throughout time.

    Behind you, you can get food or drink, visit a toilet or relax for awhile. To partake, simply pause the tour and resume when you're done.

    [4 SECONDS PAUSE]

    To exit this wood toward our next destination, take the first diagonal right after Hercules. Then, make an immediate right toward the center fountain.

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