France The Chateau of Versailles has reopened its Hall of Mirrors to the public after more than three years of work to restore the gilded gallery of 357 mirrors, the castle's crown jewel.
The $16 million renovation, paid for by French construction company Vinci, was billed as the biggest cultural patronage project ever undertaken by a private company in France, where such work has traditionally been paid for by the state.
Vincent Guerre, in charge of renovating the gallery's mirrors, said Monday that 70 percent of them dated back to the hall's opening in the 17th century. They were polished and repaired, though some distinctive graffiti was left in place, such as the signature "Rene," inscribed during an 1820 restoration, he said. Forty-eight mirrors were replaced with mirrors dating back to the same period. Not a single one broke during the work, he said.
Louis XIV, the Sun King, had the hall built as a monument to his own glory. The 960-square-yard Hall of Mirrors was constructed between 1678 and 1684.
The Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I was signed here on June 28, 1919.