Louis XIV had an entire hall of mirrors built in Versailles because mirrors were so expensive. Is this true or false?

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The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles is probably the most famous room of the Palace. It was initially built to replace a terrace constructed by Louis Le Vau that exposed its inhabitants to bad weather since it opened onto the elaborate gardens at Versailles.

Jules Hardouin-Mansart designed the Hall of Mirrors; its construction began in 1678 and ended in 1684. Once rebuilt as a gallery, the Hall came to represent the lavish socioeconomic status of the nation of France and its ruler at the time, Louis IV. The Hall of Mirrors stood between the King's chambers to the North and the Queen's to the South.

One side of the Hall of Mirrors contains a row of giant windows that look out on the gardens (almost 2000 acres of lawns, fountains, and paths). On the opposite wall, Louis IV had 357 mirrors mounted on the walls, to capture the rising of the sun and its rays, as a tribute to himself, for he referred to himself as the Sun King. This commemoration of himself was also another purpose that the Hall of Mirrors served, in addition to being used as a passageway. All that this king built was to serve as a reminder of his wealth and power.

King Louis spared no expense in the construction of his palace, which includes the elaborate Hall of Mirrors. The entire palace of Versailles was gilded in gold and marble, and it is full of sculptures and works of art to commemorate Louis XIV and his reign. It is no accident that King Louis IV named himself the Sun God (“Le Roi Soleil”) and lavished his palace with all sorts of excesses. These excesses contributed to the unrest that led to the French Revolution upon its monarchy.

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It is true that mirrors were an expensive luxury item in France at the time the Hall of Mirrors was constructed in the palace at Versailles. The decor is certainly a commemoration of the superior status of French economic, political, and artistic accomplishments of the era. Venice was considered to be the European center of mirror production in those days, and the fact that the mirrors at Versailles were manufactured in France was a challenge to Venice's claim of superiority in that industry.

There are over three hundred and fifty mirrors bedecking the walls in the Hall of Mirrors, and it has been the location of lavish balls and ceremonies throughout history, including the signing of the treaty that ended WWI.

Louis XIV walked through the Hall of Mirrors daily, but it seems short-sighted to say that he had it built simply because mirrors were expensive. It seems more likely that it was an opportunity to feature Parisian workmanship and create a lavish display that demonstrated French prosperity in his day.

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