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Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord


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The Chateau de Chambord, located in the Loire Valley of Loir-et-Cher, France, was built between 1519 and 1547 CE. This fine French Renaissance building, although impressive in both size and architectural detail, was commissioned by Francis I of France (r. 1515-1547 CE) to function as a hunting lodge where the king and his entourage could pursue the abundant game in the surrounding forest. The chateau has several innovative design features which proved influential on other French monumental buildings in the 16th century CE, and it remains one of the most famous and visited buildings in France. Chateau de Chambord was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1981 CE.

Francis I

Francis I succeeded his cousin, Louis XII of France (r. 1498-1515 CE), when the king died without children in 1515 CE. Although Francis was, like Louis, preoccupied with an ongoing war with Italy, the French king remained determined to leave a lasting legacy of his reign. Buildings were his main focus and one of the gems of Francis' grand architectural project was the Chateau de Chambord. Located in the heavily forested Sologne region of the Loire Valley, the chateau was intended as a retreat where the king could escape the intrigues of the court and enjoy a spot of hunting, particularly of stags. Francis continuously expanded the estate through purchases so that it covered more than 2,500 hectares. The chateau was built on the site of a medieval hunting lodge or castle used by the counts of Blois and located on a tributary of the Loire River, the Cosson. This structure, evidence of which has been excavated below one of Chambord's towers, had a military function as attested by the documentary evidence of a garrison stationed there from 1356 CE. In the long history of the site, there is a clue to the name 'Chambord' as the Celts called the area cambo ritos meaning 'ford in the bend' and referencing a twist in the River Cosson.

Chambord was given the impressive appearance of a medieval castle, even if there was no need for any military defence.

As this vast expanse of forest now belonged to the Crown, so Francis was completely free to follow his royal architectural whim and build an extravagance from scratch. One of the great Renaissance patrons, Francis commissioned the services of many celebrated French and foreign artists. One such figure was the Italian engineer and architect Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519 CE), who was perhaps involved in the preliminary design stage of Chateau de Chambord - especially the staircase which the master made several sketches of. However, as Leonardo died before construction really got underway, his involvement can only be speculated on. The architect most often credited with the triumph that is Chambord is Domenico da Cortona (1470-1549 CE). Domenico was Italian but had already made a name for himself working for King Charles VIII of France (r. 1483-1498 CE). Domenico likely created the detailed wooden model which the builders of the full-size chateau attempted to replicate in stone. Other names associated with the long construction process include the French architects Jacques Sourdeau, Pierre Neveu, and Denis Sourdeau, and, appointed by Francis I as superintendent of the actual construction, Francois de Pontbriant. Building began in 1519 CE and continued with some interruptions until the work was largely complete in 1540 CE. Further additions such as the Royal or East wing were added in 1544-5 CE and not finished until after Francis' death in 1547 CE.

Design Features

Although a hunting retreat, Chambord was given the impressive appearance of a medieval castle, even if there was no need for any military defence. The sheer scale of the building was designed to impress as one of the many royal residences the king used throughout the years of his reign. In addition, there was also the practical necessity of providing sufficient accommodation for the king's vast entourage which could number over 600 courtiers and servants.

The central square keep or donjon has round corner towers, each topped by a conical roof and lantern. An additional central tower has flying buttresses, a spiral staircase, and its own lantern, this time topped with a fleur-de-lis. The tallest structure in the chateau, the central tower is 56 metres (183 ft.) tall. The keep is surrounded by a circuit wall (enceinte basse) which itself has one-storey circular towers in the corners. On the southern side is the principal entrance, the Royal Gate. In the courtyard, a double doorway gives access to the keep while an external spiral staircase in the north and west circuit towers gives access to the upper floors of the chateau's wings.

Built in a period when Italian Renaissance architects were introducing new ideas into French buildings, Chambord displays several innovations. The entire layout of the central keep building, best seen from above, replicates a Greek cross - with each arm being precisely twice its width - a design feature of the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano.

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A second striking innovation is the monumental double spiral staircase which rises through the centre of the keep to reach a glass ceiling and which provides an entrance to the roof pavilion. The stairs each describe a 360-degree turn between every floor level, which allows two people, one ascending each staircase, to keep each other in view but never meet. The staircase, if not Leonardo's original idea, was likely a feature of the original model created by Domenico da Cortona. Then again, it may perhaps have been inspired by the work of fellow Italian architect Giuliano da Sangallo (c. 1545-1516 CE). Other Italian-inspired features of the chateau include classical ornamental window frames, pilasters, and mouldings which give the exterior a highly contoured facade on all four sides.

Besides Italian ideas, Chambord also showcases many features of French architecture of the period, especially from the Burgundy region. An example of this tradition can be seen in the prickly skyline of the chateau, created by a myriad of towers, turrets, chimneys, and pinnacles. There is said to be a fireplace at Chambord for each day of the year, and these are served by some 200 highly ornate chimneys. The roof is further enhanced with walkways and terraces offering splendid views of the surrounding park and forest which remained a well-stocked (and well-policed) royal hunting park from 1547 to 1777 CE.

Interior

The keep is symmetrically divided into four parts, each one containing its own group of apartments on three floors. The outer ring of rooms in the exterior wall is divided into three wings on the ground floor with only partial upper floors on the west and east wings. The chambers of Francis I are located on the first floor in the outer Robert de Parme Tower in the northern corner of the chateau. The chapel, with its impressive barrel vault ceiling, is on the first floor of the western outer tower, the Chapel Tower.

The interior of the chateau was originally decorated in the Italian classicizing style. There are 440 rooms and although these largely remained empty for many years, the royal suites and guest apartments have recently been furnished with items contemporary with the chateau's heyday based on inventories available from the mid-18th century CE. From 2014 CE, over 40 unique pieces have been installed in the chateau which give visitors an authentic insight into its rich history. These pieces include period four-poster beds, sofas, tables, chairs, clocks, paintings, and vases. Worthy of special note is the Queen's Chamber on the second floor of the keep's North Tower. Restored to its 17th-century CE appearance, it boasts a lush blue four-poster bed with drapery and matching wallpaper and stools. The chamber was used by Queen Marie-Thérèse of Austria, wife of Louis XIV, amongst others.

Later History

Although Francis I never actually spent very much time in his masterpiece offering to French architecture - 72 days over his entire reign - Chambord served its purpose as a symbol of French royal power for both a domestic and foreign audience. One impressed visitor was Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (r. 1519-1556 CE) who described it as "a summing up…of human industry" (Forlivesi, 10). The enclosed forest and lands were expanded by later owners, notably in the mid-17th century CE by Gaston d'Orleans (1626-1660 CE), the brother of Louis XIII (r. 1610-1643 CE). It was Gaston who completed the estate's boundary walls and refurbished the upper floors of the keep and the Royal Wing's first floor.

Such was the perfection of Chambord that later kings proved reluctant to tamper with the exterior. Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715 CE) did complete the Chapel Wing and embarked on a general restoration programme which included landscaping the immediate area around the chateau to create French gardens. The 'Sun King' incorporated yet more nearby parishes into the royal grounds and he would hold several large and extravagant gatherings at Chambord during his long reign. These events included such illustrious guests as the playwright Moliere (1622-1673 CE). During the reign of Louis XV (r. 1715-1774 CE), Chambord was made more comfortable, especially for colder periods of the year, with the addition of parquet flooring, wood panelling and low false ceilings. Between 1745 and 1750 CE, Chambord became the permanent residence of the Maréchal de Saxe (1696-1750 CE) who greatly added to the interior furnishings and created the network of pathways which crisscrossed the estate, many of which still survive today.

During the French Revolution (1789-1799 CE) the chateau was ransacked, its furnishings were sold off, and the game in the park was almost entirely hunted down. After briefly passing into the hands of Napoleon's general Berthier it was then put up for sale on the open market in 1819 CE. From 1821 CE Chambord was owned by the Duc de Bordeaux (1820-1883 CE) who, despite being in exile and never seeing his handsome property until 1871 CE, called himself the Comte de Chambord. From 1827 CE the chateau was opened to the public but was suffering neglect. The French novelist Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880 CE) visited and noted, "the spider weaves its web on the salamander of Francis I" (D'Huart, 33), referring to the cobwebs over the many carved instances of that animal, symbol of Francis I, throughout the chateau. Fortunately, over the course of the second half of the 19th century CE, extensive renovations were made. The Chateau de Chambord was acquired by the French state in 1930 CE and renovation and restoration works have been ongoing more or less ever since.

The Chateau Today

Wowing visitors over five centuries, Chateau de Chambord remains today an iconic building, the chateau par excellence in a country rightly famous for its extravagant palaces. The chateau is open to the public and includes stables, English gardens, a museum dedicated to the Comte de Chambord, and galleries for temporary exhibitions. Chambord is also home to one of France's most important collections of tapestries which date from the 16th to 19th century CE. These textile masterpieces cover such subjects as stories from the Bible, Greek mythology, and famous figures from antiquity, and they were rigorously selected for inclusion in the collection either because they once hung in Chambord or have the chateau or hunting as their subject.

Today, the entire Chambord estate covers more than 5,400 hectares and, with its 32 kilometre-long (20-mile) perimeter wall, it is Europe's largest forest enclosure and one of France's most visited tourist attractions, the brightest jewel in the fabulous chain of palaces which lie along the entire length of the Loire Valley.


9 fascinating facts about the Chateau de Chambord

It was on his victorious return from the Battle of Marignan in 1515 that Francis I decided to build Chambord. It wasn’t just to be a residence, but a monumental symbol of his power inscribed in stone. Despite this, he spent only 50 days there. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 (External link) , the castle has been home to many illustrious guests over the centuries. It has hosted memorable celebrations and hunting parties, including those of Louis XIV who completed the work of constructing the castle.


The Da Vinci Connection

During the 1910s, Reymond Marcel’s article Leonardo da Vinci, architect Chambord asserted that it was in fact Leonardo da Vinci who was responsible for designing the chateau. In his article, Marcel claims that it reflects the Renaissance Man’s design for a different chateau. Specifically, the design is similar to that of the design for the chateau found in Romorantin.
The chateau at Romarantin was planned as a gift by Francis for his mother. It should be noted that Leonardo was a favored guest of King Francis I. At that time, Leonardo resided in Clos Lucé under the auspices of King Francis I. Special notice was given on Leonardo’s interest in double spiral staircases and central planning.
In addition to the evidence submitted above, Dominic Hofbauer and Jean-Sylvain Caillou discovered archeological findings that show there is a lack of symmetry in the facades. This indicates that the facades were derived from an original design, but were then abandoned a short time after construction was underway.
To strengthen their case, the two state how the staircase had a rotative design. This particular element of the staircase was completely original for its time. The rotative design element is reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work on the helicopter and hydraulic turbines.
Despite the strong evidence presented in favor of this Da Vinci connection, the discussion has not yet reached a conclusion. However, most respected scholars do agree that the evidence shows that Leonardo must have had, at the very least, collaborated on the chateau’s design.


Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.

Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.

Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.

The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.

During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.

The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.

From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.

The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.

Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.


Château de Chambord: 440 Rooms of Royal Opulence

With its huge scale and prickly silhouette, Château de Chambord is the granddaddy of all châteaux in the Loire. It’s surrounded by Europe’s largest enclosed forest park, a game preserve defined by a 20-mile-long wall and teeming with wild deer and boar. Chambord (shahn-bor) began as a simple hunting lodge for bored Blois counts and became a monument to the royal sport and duty of hunting. (Apparently, hunting was considered important to keep the animal population under control and the vital forests healthy.)

The château, six times the size of most, has 440 rooms, and a fireplace for every day of the year. It consists of a keep in the shape of a Greek cross, with four towers and two wings surrounded by stables. It has four floors, with many stairs in between thanks to the high ceilings. The ground floor has reception rooms, the first floor up houses the royal apartments, the second floor up is mostly a hunting museum, and the rooftop offers a hunt-viewing terrace. Because hunting visibility is best after autumn leaves fall, Chambord was a winter palace (which helps explain the number of fireplaces). Only 80 of Chambord’s rooms are open to the public--and that’s plenty. This place would be great for hide-and-seek.

Cost and Hours: 𔛁.50, daily April–Sept 9:00󈝾:15, Oct–March 9:00󈝽:15, last entry 30 min before closing (but you’ll need more time there anyway), parking-𔚻, tel. 02 54 50 50 40, www.chambord.org. There are two ticket offices: one in the village in front of the château, and another inside the château. Call ahead to verify hours, guided tour times, horse shows, and evening visits.

Information and Tours: This château requires helpful information to make it come alive. All rooms except the hunting museum have good English explanations (the free brochure is useless). Overachievers can rent an audioguide for a thorough history of the château and its rooms (𔚼, two can share one audioguide with volume turned to max). Free 30-minute English-language introductions to the château are given a few times a day from May to September (call ahead for times󈟛:00 and 15:00 in 2009).

Views: For the best views, cross the small river in front of the château and turn right.

Background: Starting in 1518, François I created this “weekend retreat,” using 1,800 workmen over 15 years. (You’ll see his signature salamander symbol everywhere.) François I was an absolute monarch--with an emphasis on absolute. In 32 years of rule (1515�), he never once called the Estates-General to session (a rudimentary Parliament in ancien régime France). This grand hunting palace was another way to show off his power. Charles V--the Holy Roman Emperor and most powerful man of the age--was invited here and was, like, totally wowed.

Self-Guided Tour: This tour covers the highlights.

The ground-floor reception rooms offer little to see, except for a subtitled video with helpful information on the château’s construction and, of course, the magically monumental double-spiral staircase (read the wall banner’s description to the right of stairway). Climb the staircase, which was likely inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, who died just as construction was starting. Allowing people to go up and down without passing each other (look up the center from the ground floor), it’s a masterpiece of the French Renaissance. Peek at other visitors through the openings as you climb, and admire the ingenious design.

The first floor up offers the most interesting rooms. Tour this floor basically clockwise, starting in the room behind the loom display (where you’ll enter the very royal apartments in the king’s wing). You’ll pass through the grand bedrooms of Louis XIV, his wife Maria Theresa, and at the far end, François I. Gaze at their portraits and get to know them. I liked Louis’ commode shortcut, but overall I’m partial to François’ bedroom--because he was a traveling king, his furniture was designed to be easily disassembled and moved with him (seems pretty thrifty for a king).

Find your way back to the stairway (expect to get turned around a few times, particularly if you explore the balcony walkways), and visit the rooms devoted to the Count of Chambord, the final owner of the château. This 19th-century count, last of the French Bourbons, was next in line to be the king when France decided it didn’t need one. He was raring to rule. You’ll see his coronation outfits and even souvenirs from the coronation that never happened. Check out his boyhood collection of little guns, including a working mini-cannon. It was during this period that Chambord was lived in and enjoyed the most.

The second floor up has beautiful coffered ceilings (notice the “F” for you-know-who) and holds a series of ballrooms that once hosted post-hunt parties. It’s been closed for restoration, but when it’s re-opened you should find a museum with finely crafted hunting weapons and exhibits on myths, legends, traditions, and techniques from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries--but, unfortunately, little information in English.

To see what happens when you put 365 fireplaces in your house (used to heat the palace in winter even today), climb to the rooftop. A pincushion of spires and chimneys decorates a viewing terrace, where the ladies would enjoy the spectacle of their ego-pumping hunters. On hunt day, a line of beaters would fan out and work inward from the distant walls, flushing wild game to the center, where the king and his buddies waited. The showy lantern tower of the tallest spire glowed with a nighttime torch when the king was in. From the rooftop, view the elegant king’s wing--marked by FRF (François Roi de France) and bristling with fleurs-de-lis.

Finish your visit back on the ground floor, and take a quick spin through the classy carriage rooms and fascinating lapidary rooms (in the far right wing of the château, as you face the château from the courtyard). Here you’ll come face-to-face with original stonework from the roof, including the bulky lantern cupola. Imagine having to move that load. The volcanic tuff stone used to build the spires is soft and not very durable---particularly when so exposed to the elements.

For all the details on the Château de Chambord, please see Rick Steves’ France.


Château de Chambord

The Chateau de Chambord is one of the famous manor houses in the world. It is located in Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France, and is renowned for its perfect and unique French architecture which combines the French and Italian classical traditions.

The Chambord was constructed under the rule of King Francois I. Its main purpose was to become a hunting lodge for the king. There are doubts as to who actually designed the original building. Some say the design is attributed to Philibert Delorme, a French Renaissance architect. Others say Leonardo da Vinci played a major role in designing it.

The Chambord Chateau is the largest castle in the entire Loire Valley. The centerpiece of the chateau is the double helix staircase. Both of the helices ascend up to the third floor and never connect. The castle is made up of a central tower that is used for a dungeon with four other towers that support all four corners. The Chambord has 440 rooms, 84 staircases and 365 fireplaces along with vault-shaped hallways on each floor to give the building its cross-like shape. There are 11 kinds of towers and three kinds of chimneys. The entire castle is surrounded by 13,000 acres of wooded parkland.


Viewed from the north of the Façade of the Château de Chambord in Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France
Photo by: Stevage, Creative Commons

Just under its roof, Chambord hides the treasure of its architecture—the lofts of the West Tower of the keep, built from 16th century wood. They're a secret that only savvy visitors who have chosen the "unusual" and "thorough" guided tours.

Conceived by François I, who blessed Chambord with the symbol of his power, construction continued after his death. Visitors can thank Gaston d'Orléans, the brother of King Louis XIII, for Chambord Park. It wasn't until the reign of Louis XIV that the building was completed, and converted into a proper châteaux.

Chambord continued to seduce crowned heads, welcoming the King of Poland (father-in-law to Louis XV) during his exile, as well the Marshal of Saxony, to whom we owe the French-style garden.

In 2019, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the château's ground-breaking, Chambord welcomes visitors with a site tour, orchestrated by designer Jacques Garcia.

Find out more:

Read more:

Plan your visit:

The Chateau de Chambord is open from 9 AM to 6 PM from the 30th of March to the 27th of October and from 9 AM to 5 PM from the 28th of October to the 29th of March.
Last entry is half an hour before closing.

Rates:
Full rate: 14.50€
Reduce rate: 12€
Free admission: under 18, long-term EU resident aged 18 to 25, disable person plus one accompanying person.


History

François I

The salamander, symbol of François I, adorns the ceiling in many rooms.During François I's reign, the castle was rarely inhabited. In fact, the king spent barely seven weeks there in total, comprising short hunting visits. As the castle had been constructed with the purpose of short stays, it was actually not practical to live there on a longer-term basis. The massive rooms, open windows and high ceilings meant heating was impractical. Similarly, as the castle was not surrounded by a village or estate, there was no immediate source of food other than game. This meant that all food had to be brought with the group, typically numbering up to 2,000 people at a time.

As a result of all the above, the castle was completely unfurnished during this period. All furniture, wall coverings, eating implements and so forth were brought specifically for each hunting trip, a major logistical exercise. It is for this reason that much furniture from the era was built to be disassembled to facilitate transportation. He died of a heart attack in 1547 (474 years ago).

Louis XIV

For more than 80 years after the death of King François, French kings abandoned the castle, allowing it to fall into decay. Finally, in 1639 (382 years ago) King Louis XIII gave it to his brother, Gaston d'Orleans, who saved the castle from ruin by carrying out much restoration work. King Louis XIV had the great keep restored and furnished the royal apartments. The king then added a 1,200-horse stable, enabling him to use the castle as a hunting lodge and a place to entertain a few weeks each year. Nonetheless, Louis XIV abandoned the castle in 1685 (336 years ago).

Louis XV

From 1725 (296 years ago) to 1733 (288 years ago), Stanislas I (Stanislas Leszczynski), the deposed king of Poland and father-in-law of King Louis XV, lived at Chambord. In 1745 (276 years ago), as a reward for valour, the king gave the castle to Maurice de Saxe, Marshal of France who installed his military regiment there. Maurice de Saxe died in 1750 (271 years ago) and once again the colossal castle sat empty for many years.

The Comte de Chambord

In 1792 (229 years ago), the Revolutionary government ordered the sale of the furnishings the wall panellings were removed and even floors were taken up and sold for the value of their timber, and, according to M de la Saussaye, the panelled doors were burned to keep the rooms warm during the sales the empty castle was left abandoned until Napoleon Bonaparte gave the castle to his subordinate, Louis Alexandre Berthier. The castle was subsequently purchased from his widow for the infant Duke of Bordeaux, Henri Charles Dieudonné (1820-1883) who took the title Comte de Chambord. A brief attempt at restoration and occupation was made by his grandfather King Charles X (1824-1830) but in 1830 (191 years ago) both were exiled. During the Franco-Prussian War, (1870-1871) the castle was used as a field hospital.

The Ducal family

The final attempt to make use of the colossus came from the Comte de Chambord but after the Comte died in 1883 (138 years ago), the castle was left to his sister's heirs, the Ducal family of Parma, Italy. Firstly Robert, Duke of Parma who died in 1907 (114 years ago) and after him, Elias, Prince of Parma. Any attempts at restoration ended with the onset of World War I in 1914 (107 years ago).

Modern history

The castle was confiscated as enemy property in 1915 (106 years ago), but the family of the Duke of Parma sued to recover it, and that suit was not settled until 1932 restoration work was not begun until a few years after World War II ended in 1945 (76 years ago). Today, Chambord is a major tourist attraction.

In 1939 (82 years ago), shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the art collections of the Louvre and Compiègne museums (including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo) were stored at the Château de Chambord. An American B 24 bomber plane crashed onto the castle lawn on Jun. 22, 1944 (77 years ago).

An image (wallpaper) of the Château de Chambord is used in the Microsoft Windows computer operating system as one of the standard wallpaper selections. It is referred to in the selection list as simply "Chateau".


Interesting facts about Chateau de Chambord

The royal Chateau de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France, is one of the most recognizable chateaux in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures.

It is located between the untamed royal river and the wild woodlands, which is home to many boar and deer.

Building of the château was begun by Francis I in 1519, and was completed in 1547.

The design itself can be attributed to various architects and influences during the 25 years it took to build in the first half of the 16th century, including the input of Leonardo da Vinci, when he was a guest of the King staying nearby (at Clos Lucé).

Many sources acknowledge that an Italian architect, Domenico da Cortona, was the original designer.

Chambord has 440 room, 84 staircases, 365 fireplaces and 800 sculpted capitals.

One of the architectural highlights is the ornate roof, and the feature that makes Chateau de Chambord so instantly recognisable. At a glance the roof is symmetrical but look closer and you will see that is not the case – among the numerous towers, light wells and decorative features there are many variations from left to right.

The other architectural highlight is the spectacular open double helix staircase. The two helices ascend the three floors without ever meeting, illuminated from above by a sort of light house at the highest point of the chateau. There are suggestions that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed the staircase, but this has not been confirmed.

With Chambord, the use of coffered vaulted ceilings was employed for the first time in France.

On the first storey of the royal wing, you will find the former lodgings of François I, including a bedroom, small private rooms or cabinets attached to it and an oratory with a remarkably sculpted vaulted ceiling.

Louis XIV inherited the castle and began a long series of restoration work and expansion that he abandoned when he began building his Chateau of Versailles.

The State Apartment was created to conform with royal etiquette during the reign of Louis XIV. The rooms are furnished as in the time of the Maréchal de Saxe during the 18th century.

In the State Apartments you can see Louis XIV’s redecorated bedchamber, the grandest quarters in the chateau.

The “logis” (living quarters) of the king matched the chapel located in the west wing. The chapel was begun between 1545-1550 and completed under Louis XIV.

The Queen’s Apartment – separated by a long passage from the king’s chambers.

The Roof Terrace – inspired directly from Italy, it provides a unique sight: lanterns, gables, dormer windows, 800 columns and 365 chimneys, spires and pinnacles intermingled together, all detailed by the sculpter’s chisel.

Louis XIV added a 1,200-horse stable.

The castle is situated in a vast park with an area of about 5500 hectares (13,590 acres) surrounded by a wall of 31 kilometer (19.2 miles).

Chateau de Chambord was built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I.

François I only spent a total of 72 nights in the chateau de Chambord in his entire lifetime.

Caston d’Orleans (1608-1660) Louis XIII’s brother, stayed at Chambord and Blois from 1634 to 1643 and 1652 to 1660.

Louis XIV (1638-1715) King of France, stayed at Chambord nine times between 1660 and 1685.

Stanislaus Leszczynski (1677-1766) exiled King of Poland and Louis XV’s father­in-law, lived here from 1725 to 1733.

The Marechal de Saxe (1696-1750) was given the estate by Louis XV and for two years threw sumptuous parties here.

The Duke de Bordeaux, Comte de Chambord (1820-1883) Charles X’s grandson, received the chateau by public subscription in 1821. The French government bought the chateau from the Comte de Chambord’s heirs in 1930.

The chateau served as a hospital during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.

An American military airplane almost crashed on the chateau in 1944, and 2 fires damaged the chateau in 1945. After the war, major renovations were made between 1950 and 1975.

It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

Chambord is now an important tourist destination not only for the presence of the castle, but also for certain natural attractions (such as a wildlife reserve to hunt deer and a place frequented by fishermen, especially for carp fishing).

This castle was the inspiration for the beautiful castle of the Beast in 1991 Disney film, The Beauty and the Beast.


Château de Chambord – Home of the exiled Polish Queen

It had plenty of notable inhabitants over the years and was acquired by the French state in 1930. It was classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1981 and is now open to the public.

From 1725 to 1733, the château was lived in by Stanislas Leszynski and his wife Catherine Opalińska, King and Queen of Poland and conveniently the parents-in-law of Louis XV. They moved in after the wedding of their daughter Marie to the King. They had been deposed in 1709 but returned to Poland when her husband retook the throne in 1733.

The Francis I bedroom was also used by Catherine Opalińska. At the time of this photo it was completely filled with school children so unfortunately, I have no photo of the entire room.

The oratory was used by Catherine Opalińska and Maria Theresa of Spain, wife of King Louis XIV.

Inside the chapel is a statue of Madame Elisabeth, the sister of King Louis XVI, who during one terrifying moment was mistaken for Marie Antoinette but courageously faced the rioters anyway. She was with Marie Antoinette and the children when they were imprisoned in the Temple. They were separated and Madame Elisabeth was executed on 10 May 1794.

This teeny tiny apartment belonged to the Princess of Conti, Marie Anne de Bourbon, the daughter of King Louis XIV of France and his mistress Louise de La Vallière.

One wing on the first floor is dedicated to the Count of Chambord and is perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the château, given the lack of information in the other rooms. The Count of Chambord, despite being the Count of Chambord, only visited Chambord once. As the Legitimist pretender to the French throne, he was disputedly King of France and so his presence in post-revolutionary France was not particularly welcome.

The incredible château de Chambord is the very last in the series from my trip this summer and although it certainly was one of the most beautiful ones, it was also one of the most confusing to visit. To enter you pass by two separate cash desks (why?) and you can pick up your map on your way into the courtyard. I’ll be the first to admit I suck at reading maps but I’ve never been more lost than in Chambord. There are several floors without a designated walking route and in the super busy château, that means you’re often stuck with other tourists who came from the other direction. In addition, the map offers a quick tour of only 1 hour by following stars, but the stars are only on the map and cannot be found in the château itself. Overall, I found the lack of information disturbing for such a grand château.

Full rate: 13 euros / Reduced rate: 11 euros


Watch the video: Loire, France: Château de Chambord (July 2022).


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