"The Grandest Château of Them All" Chambord by von.otter
Chambord Travel Guide: 92 reviews and 303 photos
“Chambord is the epitome of human ingenuity.”
— Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) to his host, François I
A RIVAL’S COMPLIMENTS Charles and François were locked in a power struggle for dominance in Europe during most of the French king’s reign. A bevy of young women dressed as Greek goddesses, tossing rose petals greeted the Emperor when he visited the château in 1535. François had not yet completed the castle; that would happen in 1547. With this bit of flattery, however, François’s objective – to outshine his rival – had been accomplished; he could claim that he was “one of the greatest builders in the universe.”
Château de Chambord is the grandest château of the Loire Valley castles, with 440 rooms, 365 chimneys (one for each day of the year, but really to enable each room to be independently heated), 84 staircases, a 420-foot wide façade, a 196,225-square-foot footprint and 800 sculptured columns. Do not be impressed with the number of rooms; some of them are cramped spaces used by guards protecting the sovereign. And then there is the salamander, François’s personal emblem; over 700 stone ones, wooden ones and paint ones inhabit the castle.
Some visitors complain that the rooms are empty; this is true, but it mattered little to me. The architectural achievements of the place attracted me. The highlight was the roof terrace, where those 365 chimneys can be seen up-close. It is a must-see part of the visit.
This castle is the most visited because of its size combined with its historical and architectural importance. The crowd was not overwhelming as it was at Chenonceau; that is because the space is large enough to accommodate the number of tourists. I did not feel oppressed by the other guests; there is space to move about.
Visit Château de Chambord and be impressed as Emperor Charles V was.
“Chambord is truly royal, royal in its great scale, its grand air, its indifference to common considerations.
— from “A Little Tour In France” 1884 by Henry James
Château de Chambord follows a feudal layout; it has a central donjon, or keep, with towers at its four corners and a central enclosure or courtyard. Its Renaissance construction, however, brings none such war-like impressions. Chambord is a royal leisure palace. Its architectural planning combines the then-current Italian ideas with traditional French architectural taste. At Chambord the first use of coffered vaulted ceilings was used in France.
Here is a partial list of personalities, royal and otherwise, who lived in or owned Château de Chambord. • François I had it built, but stayed here for only a total of 6 months! • François’s son Henri II, and his three sons François II, Charles IX, Henri III held Court at the castle. • Henri IV never used it; but his son, Louis XIII, who loved to hunt, used the château for the sport. • Gaston, duc d’Orleans, who received the castle as a gift from his brother, Louis XIII, saved the château from ruin by carrying out much needed restoration. • Louis XIV liked to visit the chateau to hunt, and to enjoy pastoral Court life. • Stanislas Leszczynski, King of Poland, who had been stripped of his throne, was given the castle by his son-in-law, Louis XV, and lived here from 1725 to 1733. The French king, however, preferred to remain at Versailles. • In 1809, Marshal Louis Alexandre Berthier, prince of Wagram, was given the castle as a gift from Napoleon.
- Pros:It is a huge architectural marvel.
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