Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chambord – the Dreamlike Castle

Pick a sunny day to visit Chambord. It will be the perfect occasion to take wonderful pictures inside and outside the magnificent residence.
The estate of Chambord is part of the vast French heritage, a unique spot in France and one of the top visited castles in the world.
The huge enterprise of building the castle was initiated in 1519 when the king François I was only 25 years old. Intended not as a place to reside in but rather to brag about, Chambord’s splendors were designed to display the French monarchy’s power and wealth. The result challenged both the Spanish emperor and the English king, who subsequently couldn’t help creating their own local imitations.
Chambord is undoubtedly the most eloquent example of Renaissance architecture, including a few late medieval elements. It is in fact a synthesis of shapes and decorations beautifully combined to offer surprisingly modern for those times loggias, terraces and facades.
The initial hunting lodge grew into an extravagant château containing 426 rooms, 77 staircases and 282 fireplaces. The entire construction appears delightfully graceful and well-balanced. The perfect symmetry makes it look like a doll castle from above.
It’s a pity that François I spent only 72 days of his reign here. He used to travel a lot and Chambord was not among his numerous residences, but rather a place for hunting and showing off to special visitors, like the emperor Charles V.
The construction was later on continued and finalized by his offspring Henry II and Louis XIV.
What I really enjoyed at Chambord was:
- the famous double spiral staircase - comprises two concentric spiral flights of stairs that wind independently so that two people each taking one flight can never meet
- the coach room - an exhibition of old horse-drawn carriages
- the terraces – offer a spectacular view over the entire estate
- the park - covers 5440 hectares surrounded by a long wall enclosing a forest and a national reserve for wild animals.
I strongly recommend visiting Chambord, one of the best attractions of the Loire Valley in France. You need two hours to see the castle inside and about 2-3 hours to discover the rest of the estate. There are some very nice restaurants just across where you can have lunch in the sunshine and enjoy the lovely view.


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