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Château de Chambord
Well Preserved Renaissance Château in France

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The royal Château de Chambord is one of the most recognisable châteaux in the world. Its architecture is distinct French Renaissance that blends traditional French medieval forms (such as its plan) with classical Italian structures, as seen in the facades..

The Château de Chambord was an expression of François' I desire for power and extravagance and was designed to confirm his status as one of the greatest revolutionary builder's of his age.

Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley, yet was built as a mere hunting lodge for King François I, who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and at Château d'Amboise. It is open to the public.




The Château is located at at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France

Chambord is easily accessible (A10 from Paris and Orleans exit 14 for Mer) or A10 from Bordeaux, Tours (exit 17 for Blois).

You could equally head for Blois and take a taxi or local bus.

Opening Times: every day except 25th Dec, 1st Jan and 1st May. There is an Admission Charge

Aerial View of the Château de Chambord



Château de Chambord
Domaine national de Chambord
Chambord, 41250

Domaine national de Chambord
Maison des R�fractaires
41250 Chambord
Telephone from the UK: 00 33 2 54 50 40 00
Telephone from the US: 010 33 2 54 50 40 00
Telephone from France: 02 54 50 40 00
Telephone from other countries: +33 (0)2 54 50 40 00




Google Maps


Small scale map showing the location of
Château de Chambord

Google map showing the location of
Château de Chambord

Large scale map showing
Château de Chambord



The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King François I, at least in part to be near to his mistress the Comtesse de Thoury, Claude Rohan, wife of Julien de Clermont, whose domaine, the château de Muides, was adjacent. The Comtesse's arms figure in the carved decor of the chateau.

Chambord was Francois' hunting lodge, ostensibly selected for the rich forestland of the Sologne that surrounds it. It was also a mere two days ride from Paris. As it turned out, the King managed to spend only 42 days here during his reign. Even so, Chambord was known for its sumptuous royal parties.

Later, Chambord provided the perfect setting for Moliere's plays during the reign of Louis XIV, who completed the chateau in 1685.

The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed to Domenico da Cortona, whose wooden model for the design survived long enough to be drawn by André Félibien in the seventeenth century. Some authors claim that the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme had a considerable role in the Château's design.

Chambord was altered considerably during the twenty years of its construction, (1519- 1547), during which it was overseen on-site by Pierre Nepveu.

In 1913 Marcel Reymond suggested that Leonardo da Vinci, a guest of François at Clos Lucé near Amboise, was responsible for the original design. It echoes Leonardo's plans for a château at Romorantin for the King's mother, and his interests in central planning and double helical staircases.

With the château nearing completion, François showed off his enormous symbol of power by hosting his old rival Emperor Charles V at Chambord.





Interior View of the Château de Chambord





The castle was built in Renaissance style. The massive castle 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 further two towers are found at the rear, but these were never developed, and remain the same height as the wall. The castle features 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Four rectangular vaulted hallways on each floor form a cross-shape.

Chambord adorned with the King's emblems (the letter F and the rather scary looking salamander).

The château was never intended to provide defence from enemies; 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 has often been compared with the skyline of a town. When François I commissioned the construction of Chambord, he wanted it to look like the skyline of Constantinople. It has 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..

One of the architectural highlights is the spectacular double-helix open staircase that is the centerpiece of the castle. The two helices ascend three floors without ever meeting, illuminated from above by a lantern at the highest point of the castle.

The chateau also features 128 meters of façade, more than 800 sculpted columns and an elaborately decorated roof.

The castle is surrounded by a 52.5 km² (13,000 acre) wooded park and game reserve maintained with red deer, enclosed by a 31 kilometer (20mile) wall.

The king's plan to divert the Loire to surround the chateaux was not realised, except in a novel; Amadis of Gaul, which François had translated. In the novel the château is referred to as the Palace of Firm Isle.

The design and architecture of the château inspired William Henry Crossland for his design of what is known as the Founder's building at Royal Holloway, University of London. The Founder's building features very similar towers and layout but was built using red bricks.

Staircase at the Château de Chambord


the Château de Chambord






François I

During François I's reign, the castle was rarely inhabited. The king spent barely seven weeks there in total, comprising short hunting visits. As the castle had been constructed with the purpose of short stays, it was not practical to live there on a longer-term basis. Massive rooms, open windows and high ceilings meant heating was impractical. Similarly, as the castle was not surrounded by a village or estate, there was no immediate source of food other than game. Food had to be brought with the group, typically up to 2,000 people at a time.

As a result, the castle was unfurnished during this period. All furniture, wall coverings, eating implements and so forth were brought specifically for each hunting trip, a major logistical exercise, but not unusual for great lords at this period. It is for this reason that much furniture from the era was built to be disassembled to facilitate transportation.

François died of a heart attack in 1547.


Louis XIII & Louis XIV

For more than 80 years after the death of King François, French kings abandoned the castle, allowing it to fall into decay. In 1639 King Louis XIII gave it to his brother, Gaston d'Orleans, who saved the castle from ruin by carrying out restoration work.

Louis XIV had the great keep restored and furnished the royal apartments. The king then added a 1,200-horse stable, enabling him to use the castle as a hunting lodge and a place to entertain a few weeks each year. Nonetheless, Louis XIV abandoned the castle in 1685.


Louis XV

From 1725 to 1733, Stanislas Leszczyński (Stanislas I), the deposed King of Poland and father-in-law of King Louis XV, lived at Chambord.

In 1745, as a reward for valour, the king gave the castle to Maurice de Saxe, Marshal of France who installed his military regiment there. Maurice de Saxe died in 1750 and once again the colossal castle sat empty for many years.


The Comte de Chambord

In 1792, the Revolutionary government ordered the sale of the furnishings. Wall panellings were removed and floors were taken up and sold for the value of their timber, and, according to M de la Saussaye, the panelled doors were burned to keep the rooms warm during the sales. The empty castle was left abandoned until Napoleon Bonaparte gave the castle to Louis Alexandre Berthier.

The castle was subsequently purchased from his widow for the infant Duke of Bordeaux, Henri Charles Dieudonné (1820-1883) who took the title Comte de Chambord.

A brief attempt at restoration and occupation was made by his grandfather King Charles X (1824-1830) but in 1830 both were exiled. During the Franco-Prussian War, (1870-1871) the castle was used as a field hospital.


The Ducal family of Parma

The final attempt to make use of the colossus came from the Comte de Chambord but after the Comte died in 1883, the castle was left to his sister's heirs, the Ducal family of Parma, Robert, Duke of Parma who died in 1907 and after him, Elias, Prince of Parma.

Attempts at restoration ended with the onset of World War I in 1914.


Modern history

The castle was confiscated as enemy property in 1915, but the family of the Duke of Parma sued to recover it. His suit was not settled until 1932.

In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the art collections of the Louvre and Compiègne museums (including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo) were stored at the Château de Chambord. An American B-24 Liberator bomber crashed onto the castle lawn on June 22, 1944.

Restoration work was not begun until a few years after World War II ended in 1945.

Today, Chambord is a major tourist attraction.

the Château de Chambord


the Château de Chambord showing the bas of one of the two towers never built


Evening View of the Château de Chambord


View of the Château de Chambord


View of the roof of the Château de Chambord




Unesco World Heritage Site

Unesco name of World Heritage site: The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes (added in 2000)

Justification for Inscription: "Criterion (i): The Loire Valley is noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage, in its historic towns such as Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular in its world-famous castles, such as the Château de Chambord. Criterion (ii): The Loire Valley is an outstanding cultural landscape along a major river which bears witness to an interchange of human values and to a harmonious development of interactions between human beings and their environment over two millennia. Criterion (iv): The landscape of the Loire Valley, and more particularly its many cultural monuments, illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment on western European thought and design."

Click here for more UNESCO World Heritage Castles


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