The Project of François I
King François I décides on the construction of the castle of Chambord in 1519 on swampy lands, by the river Cosson and in the center of a very abounding in game forest, to make "a big, beautiful and luxurious building". A building which has to allow him to quench his passion for hunting. Strongly fascinated and influenced by the arts and the Italian artists, he builds a castle where are involved at the same time the French and Italian influences.
Because of the sixth war of Italy, settled by the defeat of Pavie, the works have to break off between 1522 and 1526. On the return of François I, they start again continuously during 20 years, until he dies in 1547.
In 1539, Emperor Charles Quint is received by the king in what is still only the donjon under construction. Will be added to this first building: the "royal" said wing in the East and the wing of the chapel on the West, continued under the reign of his son Henri II and grandson Charles IX. The set such as we see it today, will be finished by king Louis XIV in 1685..
A single architecture
The castle is built on the model of the fortified castles of the Middle Ages, with a central square building, the donjon, endowed with four towers in each of its angles. Inside the donjon, we find five livable levels built on the same model: four square apartments and four apartments in the round towers by level.
The double staircase is in the center of the castle, it gives access to the first floor (floor of the historic apartments), on the second floor (floor dedicated to the theme of the hunting and the animal art) and in the big terrace, before being crowned by the tower-lantern and the fleur-de-lis (lily flower), the symbol of the monarchy of France..
The double helix staircase
It is an architectural curiosity which contributed to the fame of Chambord. The principle is at the same time simple and surprising: two staircases which turn in the same direction but which never cross. So, we can go up or go down without meeting the people who use the other staircase.
We like thinking that Léonard de Vinci is the engineer and the architect of this double staircase. Indeed, François I and the Italian artist had a very strong attachment to each other. They met in Bologna in Italy, before king François I does invite Léonard de Vinci to stay in the Loire Valley, and more exactly at the manor house of Clos Lucé in Amboise, where the artist died in 1519.
French formal gardens
It has been more than 20 years since France had known a project of restoration of gardens of such magnitude, with more than 600 trees, 800 shrubs, 200 rosebushes, 15 250 plants bounding borders, or another 18 874 m ² of lawns. This lightning construction work began in August 2016 and ended five months later for an opening to the public on March 20th, 2017.
The National Estate of Chambord is a unique architectural and natural ensemble in France which is registered on the UNESCO world heritage since 1981. It is also a national reserve of wildlife and of hunting which accommodates numerous representative animals of the fauna of Sologne, among which the populations of wild boars and cervids, since 1947.
Approximately 800 hectares are accessible all year long to the public, to take advantage of marked out pedestrian paths or of fitted out bicycle paths.
The domain is the biggest closed forest park of Europe with:
- a 32 km long wall to enclose some 5 440 hectares of surface (that is the surface of the city of Inner Paris)
- wall opened by 6 doors
- 200 hectares of farmlands
- a village spread on 15 hectares
- 160 hectares of meadows in game
- the second French site for the balbuzar fisherman ( protected species)
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