Home » » Château de Chambord

Château de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord is the largest of the Loire Chateau, despite being built originally as a 'hunting lodge' for King Francois I - his 'main' royal palaces can be seen at the Château d'Amboise and the Château de Blois!

The largest of the many grand castles to be found in the Loire Valley, Chambord is a magnificent site both when viewed from outside (especially from the north, to best appreciate the grandeur and symmetry of the castle) and when enjoying a tour of the opulent interiors.

It was designed and built to excel, and it does that grandly. Even the Loire River is said to have been diverted to make a bit more space for its construction, and doubtless for the 'game reserve that now sits in the grounds of the chateau, which cover more than 50 square kilometres

Chateau Chambord history

The castle was built as a hunting lodge, and that is how it was originally used. Apparently after spending more than two decades having the castle built, Francois I himself only actually spent seven weeks in the castle, when he was hunting in the region! (It is said that a King's hunting party consisted of around 2000 people, so it was perhaps difficult to organise a time when they could all get away together...) Since the castle was more or less unused, it also remained unfurnished (and of course unheated) at this time.

To make matters worse, after the death of Francois I in 1547 the castle then remained in a state of abandon for almost 100 years, at which point Gaston d'Orleans was given the castle by King Louis XIII (his brother). He started major renovation works, which were subsequently carried on by King Louis XIV who also had the immense stables built, sufficient to house the several hundred horses that were needed for a royal hunting trip. Despite all this work and expense, Louis XIV (the Sun King) also abadoned the castle after a few years, from 1685.

Chambord castle had a couple more periods of occupation over the following century, both relatively brief, and by 1750 it was once again in a state of abandon. While the revolution spared the structure it did result in the furnishings that had been added during the renovation works to be sold, and the castle remained empty until the early 19th century.

History was to repeat itself at Chambord. A French miltary leader was given the property by Napoleon - he died soon after and his widow sold the castle to the Duke of Bordeaux, who soon after got exiled from France. Another forty years on and Chambord was pressed into service as a hospital during the 1871 Franco-Prussian war. Yet again the decades that followed led to the castle changing hands on occasion, and being occupied for some periods.

This uncertain history was only to come to an end in the middle of the 20th century, when the castle passed into government ownership and was subsequently renovated. All this history is a rather sobering thought when you vist and see the extraordinary size and grandeur of the structure, and apprecite that is has stood empty for the large majority of the last 550 years.

Chateau Chambord architecture

The castles distinct French Renaissance architecture combines traditional medieval defensive structures with classical Italian aspects. It dates from the time when chateaux in the Loire no longer needed to have medieval defenses, but elements such as towers and moats were retained for their aesthetic beauty.

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).

The main body of the castle is roughly square in shape, with a large tower in each corner. there are also two (symmetrical) wings to the castle, each also ending with a substantial tower. Superlatives abound in the immense building and it is said there are more than 400 rooms, and almost as many fireplaces, along with 84 staircases.

Among all this grandeur, the central staircase still impresses and is perhaps the architectural highlight of a visit. The stone staircase rises the height of Chambord castle, and is of a 'double helix' form - this means that two 'independent' staircases are wound around each other, such that people going up the stairs will not meet those coming down (hardly a major concern you might think, given that each of the staircases is several metres across).

The other architectural highlight must surely be 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 result of combining medieval French architecture with highlights from the Italian renaissance might be expected to create an alarming imbalance, but in reality the two combine to create a unified whole that is one of the most notable castles in France.

Visit Chateau Chambord

The renovated castle has also been furnished, and during your visit you can explore almost 100 of the castle rooms. You will perhaps be pleased to know you can visit as you wish - no need to listen to a guide explaining each of the rooms! However be sure to pick up the explanatory leaflet so that you have some feel for the history of the more important rooms and architectural highlights at Chambord.

Apart from the building itself you can also enjoy exploring the very extensive parkland, visiting the game reserve in the grounds of Chateau Chambord, seeing the stables and even admiring a collection of traditional horse-drawn carriages. The visit to the castle and grounds is extensive so allow the best part of a day.

Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for François I, who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and Château d'Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with several doubts, to Domenico da Cortona. Some authors claim that the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme had a considerable role in the château's design,[2] and others have suggested that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed it.

Chambord was altered considerably during the twenty years of its construction, (1519–1547), during which it was overseen on-site by Pierre Nepveu. With the château nearing completion, François showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old archnemesis, Emperor Charles V at Chambord

Châteaux in the 16th-century departed from castle architecture while they were off-shoots of castles, with features commonly associated with them, they did not have serious defences. Extensive gardens and water features, such as a moat, were common amongst châteaux from this period. Chambord is no exception to this pattern. The layout is reminiscent of a typical castle with a keep, corner towers, and defended by a moat. Built in Renaissance style, the internal layout is an early example of the French and Italian style of grouping rooms into self-contained suites, a departure from the medieval style of corridor rooms.The massive château is composed of a central keep with four immense bastion towers at the corners. The keep also forms part of the front wall of a larger compound with two more large towers. Bases for a possible further two towers are found at the rear, but these were never developed, and remain the same height as the wall. The château features 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Four rectangular vaulted hallways on each floor form a cross-shape.

The château was never intended to provide any form of defence from enemies; consequently the walls, towers and partial moat are purely decorative, and even at the time were an anachronism. some elements of the architecture – open windows, loggia, and a vast outdoor area at the top – borrowed from the Italian Renaissance architecture – are less practical in cold and damp northern France.

The roofscape of Chambord contrasts with the masses of its masonry and has often been compared with the skyline of a town it shows eleven kinds of towers and three types of chimneys, without symmetry, framed at the corners by the massive towers. The design parallels are north Italian and Leonardesque. One of the architectural highlights is the spectacular double-helix open staircase that is the centerpiece of the château. The two helixes ascend the three floors without ever meeting, illuminated from above by a sort of light house at the highest point of the château. There are suggestions that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed the staircase, but this has not been confirmed.


François I

Who designed Château Chambord is a matter of controversy.The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with several doubts, to Domenico da Cortona, whose wooden model for the design survived long enough to be drawn by André Félibien in the 17th century. Some authors, though, claim that the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme had a considerable role in the Château's design.In 1913 Marcel Reymond suggested that Leonardo da Vinci a guest of François at Clos Lucé near Amboise, was responsible for the original design, which reflects Leonardo's plans for a château at Romorantin for the King's mother, and his interests in central planning and double helical staircases; the discussion has not yet concluded.

Regardless of who designed the château, on 6 September 1519 François Pombriant was ordered to begin construction of Château Chambord.The work was interrupted by the Italian War of 1521–1526, and work was slowed by dwindling royal funds  and difficulties in laying the structure's foundations. By 1524, the walls were barely above ground level.Building resumed in September 1526, at which point 1,800 workers were employed building the château. At the time of the death of François in 1547, the work had cost 444,070 livres. The château was built to act as a hunting lodge for Francis, however the king spent barely seven weeks there in total, comprising short hunting visits. As the château 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 château 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 château 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. After François died of a heart attack in 1547, the château was not used for almost a century.

Louis XIV

For more than 80 years after the death of King François, French kings abandoned the château, allowing it to fall into decay. Finally, in 1639 King Louis XIII gave it to his brother, Gaston d'Orleans, who saved the château 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 château as a hunting lodge and a place to entertain a few weeks each year. Nonetheless, Louis XIV abandoned the château in 1685.

Louis XV

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

The Comte de Chambord

In 1792, 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 château was left abandoned until Napoleon Bonaparte gave it to his subordinate, Louis Alexandre Berthier. The château 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 both were exiled. During the Franco-Prussian War, (1870–1871) the château 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, the château was left to his sister's heirs, the Ducal family of Parma, Italy. Firstly Robert, Duke of Parma who died in 1907 and after him, Elias, Prince of Parma. Any attempts at restoration ended with the onset of World War I in 1914.

Modern history

Château Chambord was confiscated as enemy property in 1915, 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. Today, Chambord is a major tourist attraction.

In 1939, 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 Liberator bomber crashed onto the château lawn on June 22, 1944.

In Media

Château Chambord was the inspiration for the Beast's castle in the 1991 animated Disney film Beauty and the Beast.

Related Post


ShoutMix chat widget
Guest Book

Subscribe Via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

My Blog




[Valid Atom 1.0]
Google PageRank Checker Powered by  MyPagerank.Net

Powered by FeedBurner

SEO Stats powered by MyPagerank.Net




Welcome To My Blog

I hope you find what you're looking for here . . Thank you for visit to my simple blog . .

Rizky Maulana

This life is a sacrifice and struggle . . and I am just a man who wants to be better than ever . .