The Chateau of Chambord in one of the loveliest Renaissance buildings in the
Valley of the Loire. Chambord, château, park, and village in the department of
Loire-et-Cher in central
France. The château of Chambord was a retreat for French kings, especially Louis XIV
It was under his auspices that French dramatist Molière's Monsieur de Pourceaugnac and Le bourgeois
Gentilhomme were first produced there.
Building of the château was begun by Francis I in 1519, and was completed in 1547. Florentine artist Leonardo da Vinci paid a short visit to the building during its construction and added a few embellishments to it. The structure, containing 440 rooms,
365 fireplace, 13 great staircases, and stables to accommodate 1200 horses, stands in a park surrounded by a wall
of 22 miles in circumference. 1800 men worked on the chateau.
The archives offers us no information as to the name of the architect but an
analysis of the structure reveals a profound influence of Leonardo's
thought and a extremely close tie to some of the projects by Domenico da Cortona,
and Italian architect.
Te staircase is related to a project by Leonardo which consisted of four
distinct superimposed flights of stairs, in order words, just as many stairs as
quarters and arms of the cross of the castle. It is therefore likely that
Leonardo da Vinci staircase, which may have been conceived for Chambord, was
then simplified when it was built by the master masons of the building yard.
interior of the lantern over the spiral staircase and a detail of the paneled
ceiling with the salamander and the F of Francis I
||The double spiral staircase supported by eight square pillars
The archives offer us no information as the name of the architect but
there is influence of Leonardo de Vinci and close tie to some of the
projects by Domenico da Cartona , and Italian architect. The spiral staircase
derives from a medieval concept. it goes far beyond it in its unique division
into two separate flights with numerous openings on the arms of the corridors. A
tribute to the former medieval French tradition is to be found in the presence
of powerful cylindrical towers at the corners of the keep. The top of the stairs
leads to the large terraces of the castle.
After Francis I death in 1574 the castle was practically unused
for about fifty years.
After having passed through other hands, the chateau risked
being demolished after the Revolution and in 1793 the furnishings were
dispersed. In 1947 the State began restorations which were continued for 30
Poem written by one of our tour participants in June 2001
Monsieur Divinci, may I ask how you felt
Cavorting about with French Royalty?
A genius trapped in your everyday skin.
For you have painted mysterious vixens,
And concocted a device to cut out paper hearts,
Defied water and cheated the very air you breath
All because you had a flashing vision.
What was it like to set a muddy foot
Upon the unspoiled grounds of the Loire Valley
And design Chateaus that defy space and time.
I know you left your intricate handprints
Embedded in the foundations of Chambord.
While walking your double helix stairwell,
I could see your face spiraling on the other side
I could hear childish laughter emitting from the cracks
And history pouring out of lone gunshot wounds.
But to think you pointed your finger at this land
And saw it fit to be a golden palace,
Where golden geese could fly to rest their wings.
I stood atop the towers of Chambord
Praising miles of land where knights once tred
Watching the green stretch to kiss a river bank
Where I wished I could be a swan, just to have your wings.
But instead I was left to walk your stairs again
The very fabric your hand once drew.
And leave behind spires, stables and canopy beds
Just to know I walked a moment in your beaten shoes.
~Robyn Schwartz~ (10/24/01)
|Rebecca Lange, 21, from Ludington,
Michigan USA, wrote:
| I visited Chambord in 1997 with
my high school French class. We stopped at many chateaux in France and
Chambord was amazing! My favorite feature was the double helix
staircase. The architecture and the history behind it were phenomenal.
I was also interested in the way that Francois I placed his symbols, the
salamander and the letter F through out the castle--door ways, the
ceiling....anywhere he could. Chambord was a lovely place to visit! I
look forward to returning to France and making another stop at Chambord
in the future!
|Bernetta, 18, from SouthwestUSA, wrote:
|The castle was one of the best castles
in France. The staircases had interesting view because one can see
someone else on the other staircase, but they will never meet except at
the bottom of the staircase. Usually, mistresses of the king would take
one staircase and the queen would take another staircase so that they
would not meet.
|Lin Martin, from West Wales, wrote:
| Like Clare, I visited Chambord at
night for 'Le Metamorphoses when the chateau is beautifully illuminated,
music plays, apparitions appear and disappear and ghostly images are
projected onto the stone. The rooftops were incredible and I could have
stayed all night. It was the most magical experience and I
recommend it to all but the most faint-hearted!
|Fred, 34, from London, wrote:
|Chambord is the archetype of the
Renaissance obsession with embellishment and scientific exactitude.
However, if you are ever near London, the Ninetieth century translation
of Chambord, Royal Holloway University of London, is altogether grander
and more breathtaking in scale. While Chambord is an unfinished
collection of Da Vinci inspired high level boulevards, Royal Holloway is
the dream palace built and designed by two men who knew how to leave a
real mark in the world. Thomas Holloway, entrepreneur, and WH Crossland,
architect (student of Sir GG Scott) created an English palace to rival
|Dominic Hofbauer, from France, wrote:
|Review: Just a little precision :
Leonardo died in may 1519, and the construction of Chambord began after September.
Therefore, Leonardo could not have paid visits to the building sites.
Indeed, he is believed to have inspired the original design, since he
was working for Francois 1er as the king's "first painter, first
engineer and first architect", as mentioned on Leonardo's
inhumation act. Jacques Sourdeau, Jacques Coqueau and Denis Sourdeau
were the master masons who conducted the construction, but were not
architects themselves...See you soon in Chambord !
|Kelly, 24, from USA, wrote:
|This castle was absolutely
breathtaking. Did you know that this was the castle they used in the
American film, "Ever After"? I rented the movie once returning
to the states so to relive the magic all over again. This is by far the
most beautiful thing
|Claire Dunlop, 23, from Strathclyde
|I visited Chambord last September , we
went at night and the Chateau was illuminated as if in a fairytale. We
were given a lantern and allowed to wander around this vast castle
ourselves , In every room there was something different to look at ,
whether it be holographic images on the walls the spiral staircase or
the "spooky" music. The best part of the tour however , was
visiting the rooftop of the castle free to roam around the spires
and to look out to the vast gardens and the bright stars above. It was a
lovely night and I would recommend it to everyone.
|Rodrigo, 22, from Mexico, wrote:
| It is important to name the
architects who built and constructed the Chambord castle, it is true
that Leonardo visited the construction but the authors are:
Domenico da Cortona, Jacques & Denis Sourdeau
|Eleanor Jones, 17, from Mid Wales,
|An amazing chateau. Very well restored.
I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and every thing was clearly laid out. I
would love to visit it again. To see the horses performing is well worth
the extra money. The main staircases were astonishing. Personally I
think this is the best chateau in the Loire Valley
|Jason Gunderson, 23, from Midwest,
|I visited Chambord over last summer and
it was the most magnificent thing i have ever seen. My favorite
would had to of been the double helix stair case which winds around
within itself but never meeting.
|Celine, 13, from France, wrote:
|Bonjour! Je suis allee au Chateau de
Chambord. Cetait magnifique! Le Chateau est vieux, mais le chateau est
beau!Tu peux avoir faire une pique-nique dans le park. Il y a un parc et
beau jardin. J'ai fait une visite guidee. Cetait annuyeux, mais cetait
interessant. Tu peux t'amuser beaucoup.
|Lucy, 13, from Hawaii, USA, wrote:
|For a project in my French class I have
to find information about many castles in France and then write about
them (in French, obviously) and to be completely honest, Chateau de
Chambord is not the most beautiful castle that I have come across. I
mean it is quite magnificent but there are some other castles that are
even more beautiful and I personally think that this castle is too big.
I prefer smaller castles. My favorite castle is Chateau de Villette.
Anyway that is just my opinion.
|Christen McMillan, 17, from Carleton,
Michigan, USA, wrote:
|I went with my French class to visit
France and we made stops at the castles in the Loire Valley. I
thought Chambord was absolutely stunning with all its architecture and
history. I thought the inner staircase was the best. My mom
and I went up on either side of the staircase and took a picture looking
out from two different sides of the same staircase. The experience
was one in a million. A once in a lifetime adventure I will never
|Shannon Sanders, 26, from Pennsylvania,
|First, thank you for this wonderful
site! I'm preparing a presentation for my French students, and I
wanted to brush-up on my facts. I have some gorgeous pictures from
my visit to Chambord in 1997, and I hope to return. For now, I
enjoyed the memories that your site stirred in my heart.
|Barbara, from Eastern USA, wrote:
|In 1987, a friend and I were touring
France on a budget (read, backpacking!). We made it to Blois, but had no
money for transport to the castles not within walking distance from a
train. We wandered the ancient town on a beautiful summer day, seeing a
really ancient castle, but somewhat disappointed we were unable to see
the real chateaux. We wandered down an alley, saw a cat sitting in a
window next to a potted geranium. Too picturesque to miss, we
photographed the cat. The owners opened the door, invited us in, made us
sandwiches, and showed us a movie of the castle region (using their
stove as a screen). Despite our broken French, they understood our
plight. They gathered us in their Volkswagen Golf, and drove us to
Chambord, left us to wander for an hour while they visited grandma, and
then drove us back to the train. They were so kind, and went out of
their way for us... we have a very different view of the French than
most people. Our friends were warm, hospitable, and kind to two young
women who needed some family at that point. Which is exactly why it's
important to travel and see the world!
|Holly, 24, from Kansa USA, wrote:
|I visited this castle in 1990 and was
in awe of the magnitude of the structure. This is an awe inspiring
castle, even though it did not have the furnishings that other chateaus
still held. I especially remember the lights that were in the
figures of arms holding the tapers. Something that sticks in my
memory after a decade...
|Danielle, 14, from New Zealand, wrote:
|I think the Chambord castle is a magnificent
beautiful castle. it is the most beautiful of all the castles in the Loire
valley. the style of castle is renaissance. it took 1800 men to build
it. the architect is un known un fortunately. Francis died in 1574. After
his death it was passed through many hands and was at risk of being demolished
after the revolution. luckily it is still around today aye.
| Mohamed, 32, from Ontario, Canada
| It was a grayish, autumnal day,
the wind blowing the leaves around us as we walked around the grounds of
the castle before we went to the little eatery and enjoyed some
authentic French crepes. We had spent the better part of the morning
discovering the castle itself, which, to our delight, was almost barren
of tourists at this time of year. I ventured throughout its dark and
empty spaces to reach the balcony, from whence I breathed in the
inspiring view of the nearby countryside, around me the spires rose into
the dark French sky, lifting my soul with them. this was, after all,
Chambord, I had never seen it and did not know where my kind friend
Sophie was leading me. I took a picture in front of the bridge with the
castle behind us, the wind blowing the leaves in our faces, the green of
the grass contrasting with the gray sky and the white/black facade of
the castle...some images you just never forget. to me, this will always
be France at its best.
|Shaun, 20 from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|The Chambord Castle was not used for
the winter time because, all historians agree on this point, it was much
too difficult to keep the castle warm. Even with the amount of
fireplaces(365) it was very hard. Therefore Francois the first, used it
for the spring and or summer time. He did use it for hunting. Chambord has 440 room, 84 staircases, 365 fireplaces, 800 sculpted
capitals. And France spent 11 million Francs to buy it.
|Kristin, 134, from U.S.A
|The Chambord was built from 1519 to 1547. It is in the
Loire Vaelly. The a builder was Domenico da cortona. Leonardo da Vinci
helped in the idea of the double staircase.
|Florencia, 28, from Argentina wrote:
| Chambord's stairs are very
ingenious: there are actually two stairs in only one staircase, so that
the king wouldn't cross the servants on his way up or down. It allowed
two different people to use it without seeing each other. They say
Leonardo da Vinci designed it. And it's a great idea even today to have
two stairs in the space for one, specially in the fire exits, which
allow to evacuate the building twice as fast. In fact some modern
buildings adopted Leonardo's idea!
|Carolina Camponi, 51, from Mexico City wrote:
| When I visited this castle I was impressed by
the magnificence of this masterpiece. Its staircase seemed by an
architectural point of view must have been very difficult to build.
Due to its symmetrical construction its a must to all architects.
|Becca, 9, from Virginia, USA, wrote:
| Chambord was lived in by Francis I, and though
it was a dream house, it was only occupied one week a winter. It
was only occupied during the winter because Francis used it for hunting,
which is a winter sport.
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