Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A is for...


(château of...)

Actually, originally 'A' was going to be for 'architecture', but I soon realised that:
  1. the post would be on the extremely and way, way, way too long side
  2. I'd be shooting myself in the foot if (hah - I say if like it's already not a certainty...) I couldn't think of a subject for any of the letters, and the opportunity for 'V for Versailles' (for example) had already been used up in a marvellous but way, way, way too long first abc-along 2009 post
  3. Hang on... I think I've left the oven on...
So.  Chateau d'Amboise, subject for this post.

Brief history 101 (courtesy of kind Mr Wikipedia ): Built on a promontory overlooking the Loire River to control a strategic ford that was replaced in the Middle Ages by a bridge, the château began its life in the eleventh century, when the Count of Anjou rebuilt the stronghold in stone. Expanded and improved over time, on 4 September 1434 it was seized by Charles VII of France, after its owner, Louis d'Amboise, was convicted of plotting against Louis XI and executed in 1431. Once in royal hands, the château became a favourite of French kings; being rebuilt extensively, beginning in 1492 at first in the French late Gothic Flamboyant style and then after 1495 employing two Italian mason-builders, who provided at Amboise some of the first Renaissance decorative motifs seen in French architecture.

So, where was I?  Oh yes... Château d'Amboise is built on a hill.  I guess you may have noticed that already, but what you don't fully grasp until you get to the other side is that it's partly man-made.

wall and chapel of saint hubert

Rather sturdy, to say the least.  The Chapel of Saint Hubert is a particular favourite building of mine.  It is (or was for some time) the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci, and also hosts some marvellous stone-work and beautiful stained glass windows.

I'm also rather partial to the wondrously carved portal, the details of which are superb, to say the least...

jaw-dropping intricacies

Inside the château proper, you find a spacious ground floor with guard rooms and halls and the council room, and every nook and cranny plays host to carvings and sculptures, like this little monkey and his plums...

(ooh - the comments I could make...)

... ornate fireplaces...

... and the odd king-sized (literally) bed or two:

The first floor is furnished in the more up-to-date style of the 19th century, the pièce-de-résistance being the marvellous music room, the fortepiano of which was very nearly ruined due to damp.  (My drooling.)

:: drooooooooool ::

The gardens are lovely, but sadly I don't have many photos of a decent quality, as the heavens had opened once we left the château, and decided to stay open for the rest of the visit... Except for one moment when we were back down on 'ground' level. Here's a shot of one of the towers, the spiralling insides of which were a simpler means of transferring soldiers and carriages up to the top, than the main steep entrance to the side.

excellent early exponent of the helter-skelter

Oh, and there's an olde chocolate shoppe just round the corner, too...  Marvellous!


Anonymous Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 02:29:00 GMT  

Oh, how I envy you Europeans your history and art! There just isn't anything like that in the States. What a wonderful place you live in! Thank you for sharing! (Now how about some of that olde chocolate?)

Kristen Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 04:20:00 GMT  

Great pictures!

Klozter Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 09:45:00 GMT  

I'd like to go on tour with you again! You're an excellent tourist, clearly.

Susan Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 13:13:00 GMT  

Oh that is beautiful. I love the French castles. Probably because I really wanted to be a princess and live in one when I was little.

Iron Needles Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 15:51:00 GMT  

Love your abc-posts with the European history and architecture. You are living my dream. But seriously, it's better you than me...I can't sing...or communicate adequately in French! But I dream of doing both! Can't wait to see what you bring us this year.

Anonymous Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 18:42:00 GMT  

Wow, the pictures are wonderful! Thanks for the mini tour!!!

Mair Bloag Weejits

Footerin' Aboot

Footerin' Aboot
Heh! I'm so funny!

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