Chambord, a Gem of the Renaissance
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Chambord, a Gem of the Renaissance

Chambord is one of the best known Châteaux on the Loire, but do you know everything on this gem of the French Renaissance?

In a plain, close to the Cosson River, in the heart of these forests well stocked in game, Chambord comes into view like in a dream. François I was the instigator of the château. He wanted a residence worthy of his glory. He turned to Domenico da Cortona who made a wooden model. However, these were well French hands, those of Jacques and Denis Sourdeau, of Pierre Trinqueau who built  Chambord. The working site was opened in September 1519 and the foundations finished in 1533. But men still worked at Chambord when the King died. He considered himself at home here. After his death, his successors also stayed in Chambord from Henri II to Louis XIV. This latter brought the court with him in 1669 and 1670. Molière played here his Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. Louis XIV had requested François Dorbay to carry out important changes but most most of them were never achieved. In the XVIIIth century, the former King of Poland, Stanislav Leszczinski resided in the château from 1724 to 1733. Chambord was then given to Maurice de Saxe, who trained a regiment of Uhlans and welcomed his mistresses. The estate was then offered to the Polignac Family who installed a stud-farm. Napoleon I gave Chambord to Marshall Berthier, Prince of Wagram. The Restauration presented the château to the Duke of Bordeaux who took the title of Count of Chambord. It is now the property of France. The château keeps a few belongings from the Count of Chambord and several coaches. 

 The plan of the château remains faithful to the structures of the Middle-Ages: it is a huge rectangle flanked with massive round towers at each angle and completed, in the heart of the rectangle main sides, with the monumental keep. At the crossing of the four large guards rooms arranged like a Greek cross, can be found the famous double-helix staircase. These guards rooms once had the height of three floors.  The stairwell was constructed in such a manner that one could see the other visitors without meeting them. It is crowned by a 32 m sky-light. The structures here at Chambord are extraordinary. This amazing number of dormer windows, chimneys, pinnacles and capitals that seem to arise from the terraces and get entangled, create this sumptuous décor that can be observed from far. But from very close this profusion is also fascinating, the sky-light itself is a masterpiece of technique and art. Medallions, shells, turrets, all the finely carved elements in the fashion during the reign of François I were used here. Chambord, through its architecture, its sculptures, is a remarkable subject for the study of the French Renaissance. Reminiscences of a XVth century fortress can be divulged, at least in the general layout. The Italian Style is shown in the adornment but plays no role at all in the buildings elevation. The architects also took advantage of the lessons offered to them at Blois with the François I Wing. This château is at the crossroad of influences. One may criticize its gigantic proportions, its lack of harmony in a sense, but one should recognize the originality and extreme grandeur in its design.  

Aerial view of Chambord.

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On the second floor. Abundant decoration and double-helix staircase.

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Louis XIV's ceremonial Room.

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Roof line at Chambord.

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The sky-light at Chambord. The Salamander is the emblem of François I.

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Chambord, a château with stately dimensions.

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The black décor on the chimneys and dormer windows is in grey slate.

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Comments (13)

Excellent work, Francois. I love this buidling, which is one of the greatest works of the French Renaissance. There is a building in Newcastle which was directly influenced by it. After being inspired by your article, I think I'll write a piece about it.

By the way, I'm out of votes, but I'll be back.

Awesome looking place!

Another excellent post Francois. Now I have a hint of your ancestry.

It's truly a gem my brother. It's very beautiful and reminded me of the sleeping beauty castle you wrote.

Just calling back to add my vote. Excellent work, Francois. It's a privilege to read articles by such an expert.

Ranked #1 in France

Thank you all for such nice comments. Cheers. A special thank you to Michael who wrote an excellent article (as usual) related to this one.

The architecture of this site is exquisite Francois. I am a great lover of the Renaissance and I wasn't exactly familiar with this site. It's also interesting how many hands this castle fell in to, even a Polish royal. How interesting.

Wonderful article.

They are absolutely gorgeous!

Yes, Francois. This is a fascinating place of architectural wonder. Unique and quite breathtaking. What an awesome experience to be in such a region steeped in mysterious and interesting history. Top shelf work my friend.

Beautiful structures and excellent write about it... Chambord is truly a gem.

Visited this again, amazing place :)