Theme Week Chateaux of the Loire Valley – Château de Chambord

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 - 03:10 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Architecture, General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

Aerial view © Lieven Smits

Aerial view © Lieven Smits

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 which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Italian structures.

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. Her arms figure in the carved decor of the château.

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, and others have suggested that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed it.

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.

North façade © Patrick GIRAUD Double-helix staircase © Patrick Clenet © Tim Sackton © Patrick Clenet © Manfred Heyde © Patrick Clenet Arial view © Elementerre Tiled stove made of Meißen porcelain © AlMare Aerial view © Lieven Smits
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Tiled stove made of Meißen porcelain © AlMare
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.

The château 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.

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Read more on Château de Chambord and Wikipedia Château de Chambord. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organisations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). 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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