Château de Vincennes

Tuesday, 19 September 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, Paris / Île-de-France
Reading Time:  6 minutes

© Edal Anton Lefterov/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Edal Anton Lefterov/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Château de Vincennes is a former fortress and royal residence next to the town of Vincennes, on the eastern edge of Paris, alongside the Bois de Vincennes. It was largely built between 1361 and 1369, and was a preferred residence, after the Palais de la Cité, of French Kings in the 14th to 16th century. It is particularly known for its “donjon” or keep, a fortified central tower, the tallest in Europe, built in the 14th century, and for the chapel, Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes, begun in 1379 but not completed until 1552, which is an exceptional example of Flamboyant Gothic architecture. Because of its fortifications, the château was often used as a royal sanctuary in times of trouble, and later as a prison and military headquarters. The chapel was listed as an historic monument in 1853, and the keep was listed in 1913. Most of the building is now open to the public.

Only traces remain of the earlier castle and the substantial remains date from the 14th century. The castle forms a rectangle whose perimeter is more than a kilometer in length (330 m × 175 m, 1,085 ft × 575 ft). It has six towers and three gates, each originally 42 metres (138 ft) high, and is surrounded by a deep stone lined moat. The towers of the grande enceinte now stand only to the height of the walls, having been demolished in the 1800s, save the Tour du Village on the north side of the enclosure. The south end consists of two wings facing each other, the Pavillon du Roi and the Pavillon de la Reine, built by Louis Le Vau.

The Donjon or Keep of Vincennes was finished in 1369–70. It is fifty metres (160 ft) high, the highest of its kind in Europe. Its walls are 16.5 metres (54 ft) wide on each side, and at each corner is tower 6.6 metres (22 ft) in diameter, the same height as the building. An additional tower, the height of the rest, is attached to the north of the northwest tower, providing support the whole structure and also containing latrines for all five levels of the keep. The wall at the base of the keep are 3.26 meters, or ten feet, thick. It served as both a royal residence and a very visible symbol of royal power. The keep is one of the first known examples of rebar usage. Each of the eight floors has a central room about ten meters on each side. with a height varying from seven to eight metres (23 to 26 ft). Each of the lower four floors have s central column which reinforces the vaulted ceiling. The columns were decorated with sculpture and painted in bright colors. One striking feature of the construction was the use of iron bars to strengthen the structure. More than two and half kilometres (1.6 mi) of iron bars, in various shapes, were built into the structure. Iron bars reinforced the doorways, windows and the ceilings of the corridors, and, unusually, belts of iron bars surrounded the entire tower at the ground level, fifth level and sixth level. In the Middle Ages the only access to the Keep was on the first floor, by a bridge from the terrace of the chatelet, where the King’s offices were located. A narrow stairway, within the south wall. The two entrances on the ground floor were not added until the 18th century. When the keep was given an additional floor, and grand stairway was built connecting the two noble floors, the first and second.

Sainte-Chapelle and the Queen's Pavillon © Sputniktilt/cc-by-sa-3.0 Sainte-Chapelle © Edouard Siré/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Selbymay/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Edal Anton Lefterov/cc-by-sa-3.0 Pavillon of the King © Chatsam/cc-by-sa-3.0 Pavillon of the Queen © Zairon/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Sainte-Chapelle and the Queen's Pavillon © Sputniktilt/cc-by-sa-3.0
Louis XIII built the King’s pavilion between in the southwest corner between 1610 and 1617 near the beginning of his reign. Only the west facade of this building is still visible. In 1654–58, the royal architect Louis Le Vau enlarged the building surrounding the old structure with a new structure, in the French classical style. The new building has the same length as the old pavilion, but is twice as wide. The Pavilion of the Queen was built between 1658 and 1660, following the same basic design.

The Pavilion of the King, three stories high, was built at the edge of a garden. The apartment of the King had five rooms, located on the first floor, looking west over the garden. The Queen’s apartment in her pavilion followed the same plan, overlooking the courtyard. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the interiors fell into disrepair, then were almost totally destroyed, with the exception of some portions of the painted ceilings; the Germans had stored explosives in the two pavilions, and these exploded in fires set by the departing occupiers in August 1944.

Fortunately, some portions of the painted and sculpted ceilings of the royal pavilions were saved in the 19th century; King Louis Philippe had a ceiling dismantled and transported from Vincennes to the Louvre Museum, where it was installed in room 639, a display of Egyptian Antiquities, where it can be seen today.

Read more on parisjetaime.com – Château de Vincennes, vincennes-tourisme.fr – Château de Vincennes and Wikipedia Château de Vincennes (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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