The Full Wiki

Château de Chambord: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Façade of the Château de Chambord, viewed from the north
The double-helix staircase

The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture that blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Italian structures.[1]

The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King François I in part to be near to his mistress the Comtesse de Thoury, Claude Rohan, wife of Julien de Clermont, a member of a very important family of France, whose domaine, the château de Muides, was adjacent.[2] Her arms figure in the carved decor of the chateau.

Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley, but was built to serve only as a hunting lodge for François I, who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and at Château d'Amboise. 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 seventeenth century. Some authors, though, claim that the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme had a considerable role in the Château's design. [3] Chambord was altered considerably during the twenty years of its construction, (1519[4] ‑ 1547), during which it was overseen on-site by Pierre Nepveu. In 1913 Marcel Reymond first suggested[5] 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.[6] With the château nearing completion, François showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting at Chambord his old archnemesis, Emperor Charles V.



Floor plan

The castle was built in Renaissance style. The massive castle 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 castle 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 defense 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 elaborately developed roof line

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 castle. 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 castle. There are suggestions that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed the staircase, but this has not been confirmed.

The castle also features 128 meters of façade, more than 800 sculpted columns and an elaborately decorated roof. When François I commissioned the construction of Chambord, he wanted it to look like the skyline of Constantinople.

The castle is surrounded by a 52.5‑km² (13,000‑acre) wooded park and game reserve maintained with red deer, enclosed by a 31‑kilometer (20‑mile) wall. The king's plan to divert the Loire to surround the chateaux came about only in a novel; Amadis of Gaul, which François had translated. In the novel the château is referred to as the Palace of Firm Isle.

The design and architecture of the château inspired William Henry Crossland for his design of what is known as the Founder's building at Royal Holloway, University of London. The Founder's building features very similar towers and layout but was built using red bricks.



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.

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 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.

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 castle to Maurice de Saxe, Marshal of France who installed his military regiment there. Maurice de Saxe died in 1750 and once again the colossal castle 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,[7] 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 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, the castle 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

The castle 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 castle lawn on June 22, 1944.[8]


  1. ^ Viollet-le-Duc, however, in his Dictionnaire raisonné de l'architecture française (1875) found that there was nothing Italianate about Chambord, in thought or form.
  2. ^ In fact she had some of her people demolish a section of the wall that enclosed the park of Chambord because it encroached upon land that was hers.
  3. ^ Félibien, Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire des maisons royalles (1681).
  4. ^ Building was under way in September 1519. After a hiatus, building resumed in September 1526. At the time of the death of François, 444,070 livres had been paid out in the works (Hidemichi Tanaka, "Leonardo da Vinci, Architect of Chambord?" Artibus et Historiae 13.25 (1992, pp. 85-102) p 92.
  5. ^ Reymond, "Leonardo da Vinci, architect de Chambord," Gazette des Beaux-arts (June 1913) pp 413-60.
  6. ^ Ludwig H. Heydenreich, "Leonardo da Vinci, Architect of Francis I" The Burlington Magazine 94 No. 595 (October 1952), pp. 277-85; Tanaka 1992.
  7. ^ Saussaye, Le Château de Chambord (Blois) 1865 etc.
  8. ^ [1]

External links


Coordinates: 47°36′58″N 1°31′01″E / 47.616°N 1.517°E / 47.616; 1.517


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address