Château Amboise is a splendid example of Renaissance architecture. It is associated with the names of the rulers of France, as well as the inventor Leonardo da Vinci. Despite its considerable age (the first fortifications here date back to 503) and rich history, much of it has survived in excellent condition and is now considered a jewel in the Loire Valley. In 2000, Château Amboise was inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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Video: Château Amboise
History of the Château
The history of the fortress begins in the 10th century, when the city was ruled by the Dukes of Anjou. In the 13th century it was given to the influential Amboise family. However, at the dawn of the Renaissance, in 1431, the castle passed to the royal family, while its previous owners were accused of conspiracy against the monarch.
The complex owes its present appearance to Charles VIII, who decided to completely renovate the royal residence. The young monarch had a love for luxury, so he employed some of the most famous architects, painters and sculptors of the time. The Italian gardens, recreating Mediterranean landscapes, were a particular source of pride for the king. Tragically, Amboise was in part the cause of Charles VIII’s death when he hit his head on the doorpost and died a few hours later.
View of the town from the château
The subsequent history of the castle was full of events, both joyful and tragic. Lavish balls and gala receptions were held there, but the same walls remember plots and cruel executions. Margaret of Austria spent her childhood and adolescent years here, later abandoned by her fiancé. Francis I, famous for his interest in scientific discoveries, was brought up here. Incidentally, it was he who invited Leonardo da Vinci to the Château d’Amboise and later gave him the Clos Lucé estate. Here the Renaissance genius spent the last years of his life and created designs that were centuries ahead of their time. Among these ideas were plans of a sliding bridge, a helicopter and a submarine. The artist died at his residence, and was buried in the grounds of the Amboise fortress.
The park in the Château of Amboise
When the Huguenot plot was uncovered, the monarchs left the residence and the castle fell on hard times. At the time of Louis XIV it served as a prison, and after the Great French Revolution in various years it served as a barracks and a button factory. Later it was entrusted to the hands of Roger Ducrot, a member of Parliament, a man who had not the slightest idea what to do with such a treasure. To cover the costs of maintaining the fortress, he ordered part of the main building to be dismantled and the stones to be sold. Fortunately, in 1815, the Duchess of Orleans intervened and restored the Château d’Amboise, preserving it for posterity.
General view of Château Amboise from the Loire
What to see at Château Amboise
First of all, Château Amboise is interesting because it allows you to see how the great French monarchs lived. The interiors of different eras have been recreated with great care, and a unique collection of furniture has been gathered here. Passing from room to room, admiring huge tapestries and beautiful sculptures, one cannot help but feel the spirit of those times. The music salon, the Drummer Hall and the Meeting Room, the royal bedroom – all of this is breathtakingly luxurious. It is also possible to climb the towers located on the sides of the building’s facade. In the courtyard is a commemorative plaque describing what the castle was like before Roger Ducrot destroyed it.
One of the most beautiful elements of the complex is rightly considered to be the chapel of Saint Hubert (15th century) with its lace carved vaults. The sun’s rays streaming through the stained-glass windows color the room with all the colors of the rainbow. Also worth noting are the bas-reliefs created by skilled craftsmen. There is also a tombstone, the inscription on which says that Leonardo da Vinci was buried here. End the tour with a walk through the royal gardens. They offer a beautiful view of the entire valley. At the end of the tour you can visit the souvenir shop, located in the castle, and have lunch in a cozy cafe.
If you have time, you can look at the nearby castle Clos Lucé. Of particular interest is the exhibition devoted to the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, namely the collection of machines based on his drawings. In addition, in the garden there are fragments of his paintings placed on huge posters.
Château d’Amboise after sunset
A visit to the Royal Château
Chateau Amboise is located in the town of Amboise, 220 kilometers from Paris. The most convenient way to get here is by TGV train. It departs from Gare d’Austerlitz station and runs five times a day. One way ticket costs about 35 euros and takes about 2.5 hours. From the station Amboise you can walk to the fortress – the distance is only 800 meters. The exact address is place Michel Debre, Amboise.
The wall of the castle in front of the town of Amboise
Another option is to get here by car. From Paris you take the A10, after the turnoff for Amboise – 15 km by D31, and then the N152. Near the castle there is free parking for cars and buses.
The castle is open to visitors every day of the week except December 25 and January 1. The tour includes a tour of the palace, chapel and garden complex. If you come here between April and May, you can also go down into the dungeons leading to Leonardo da Vinci Castle. From mid-June to August it would be advisable to plan a trip to the Château of Amboise for a Saturday or Wednesday, when costume shows are given.
Château Amboise in France is an ancient monument of architecture, belonging to both medieval and Renaissance cultures.
The majestic Château of Amboise harmoniously combines Medieval and Renaissance architectural styles. It stands on the banks of the Loire River in the village of the same name. It is a renowned architectural monument in the province of Endre and the Loire and rightly belongs to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
History of Château Amboise
The castle of Amboise in France has a longer history than many other famous landmarks of the country. It is believed that the first building on this site appeared in the early 6th century AD. According to legend, the Frankish King Vlavis met with the Visigothic monarch Alarich nearby. The place of the encounter was the island of St. John, just downriver from modern Amboise.
The founder of the first Château of Amboise is considered the ruler of Angers, Fulco Nerra.
An interesting fact: during the Middle Ages, the fortified estate was owned by members of the famous aristocratic Amboise-Chamon family. The strategically important crossing of the Loire belonged to them. However, in the early XV century, the owner of the estate was accused of conspiracy against the monarch, executed and his estate was confiscated in favor of the state.
The modern Amboise (France) is a three-story building with round towers on each side, which was built in the late 15th century by order of Charles VIII, he was born and died in the citadel. Famous Italian architects Fra Giocondo and da Cortona were involved in the construction, bringing Renaissance culture to the country. Historians believe that the picturesque gardens of the Château d’Amboise in Renaissance style were the first masterpiece of park architecture outside Italy.
The country residence of the monarchs has seen many notable people. Among them:
- Leonardo da Vinci, who was invited to the court of Francis I in the early 16th century. Scholars believe that it was here that the famous painter finished his “Mona Lisa” and died. According to legend, Da Vinci was buried in the famous castle chapel of St. Hubert.
- Francis II, who miraculously escaped a Huguenot attack in the second half of the 16th century. Right in the castle the conspirators were awaiting a bloody reprisal.
- Nicolas Fouquet – the French Minister of Finance – and the Duc de Lozena. They were imprisoned at Louis d’Amboise (as the castle was called when it passed to the Louis dynasty) by Louis XIV.
- Abd al-Qadir. The Arab emir, who fought against the colonial rule of France, was imprisoned in the citadel in the 19th century.
During the French Revolution, the castle was partially destroyed and looted. To avoid further looting of cultural treasures, in the 1870s the castle was given to representatives of the family of the Dukes of Orleans. It is now a cultural property of the Fondation Louis Saint. The official manager of the estate is considered to be the Count of Paris.
Tours and excursions in the Château d’Amboise
The inner rooms of the palace are made in both Gothic and Renaissance styles. Noteworthy for the antiquity lover are such rooms as:
- the hall of honor guard and the guard room, where many oak chests and other antique furniture are displayed;
- the tambourine hall;
- the council chamber, the largest room in the palace, decorated with two medieval and Renaissance-style fireplaces, as well as coats of arms, monograms, and numerous portraits of French monarchs;
- an open gallery.
The sleeping quarters of Henry II and the room of the cupbearers look just like any Renaissance apartment. The most interesting elements of the bedroom are the tapestry paintings from Tournai and Brussels, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, and the double-bottomed chest.
In Louis Philippe’s chambers – the bedroom, the study and the music room – the furnishings and interiors of the 19th century have been fully preserved. The elegant mahogany furniture and realistic portraits of the ruler himself and his parents – the Duke of Orleans and his wife – are immediately striking.
It is interesting that in these apartments there is also a portrait of Abd al-Qadir, the famous Muslim rebel against the power of the French crown, who lived here for quite a long time.
It is also worth a walk through the original royal gardens and visit the Chapel of St. Hubert with its original bas-reliefs, stained glass windows and carved stone vaults.
Finding the Château of Amboise will not cause any problems. From the French capital, travelers should take the TGV trains to the stop that bears the same name as the citadel. They depart from Austerlitz station, and the fare starts at 42 EUR. The distance from the stop to the castle is about 800 meters and can easily be overcome on foot. You can cross the Loire by the bridge of General Leclerc.
With a transfer you can get to the residence of the monarchs from Montparnasse station. Take the train that goes to the suburb of Tours – Saint-Pierre-de-Corps. The travel time will be about 1 hour and the ticket will cost from 40 EUR depending on the class of the carriage. On arrival, take the local TER train, which will take you to Amboise in just 10 minutes.
By car, the best way is to take the A28, from which you should turn onto the A85 and exit at the Chenonceau-Amboise-Blair junction.
Address: 37400 Amboise, France. Call: +33 2 47 57 00 98.
The cost of admission is:
- for adults – 11.2 EUR;
- For students – 9,7 EUR;
- For children 7-18 years old – 7,5 EUR.
If you want to order an audioguide additionally, the ticket price will increase to 15.2, 13.7 or 10.5 EUR respectively.
Most of the reviews about the castle are enthusiastic. The combination of architectural styles, luxurious interiors, amazing historical past and beautiful park makes a visit to the manor an unforgettable experience.