Chateau de Chenonceau Map
The Chateau de Chenonceau is a manor house near the small village of Chenonceaux, in the Indre-et-Loire departement of the Loire Valley in France. It was built on the site of an old mill on the River Cher, sometime before its first mention in writing in the 11th century. The current manor was designed by the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme.
Property of the Crown, then royal residence, Chenonceau Castle is an exceptional site not only because of its original design, the richness of its collections, its furniture and its decorations, but also because of its destiny, since it was loved, administrated and protected by women, who were all extraordinary and who, for the most part have marked history.
For the historical background, the "Chateau des Dames" was built in 1513 by Katherine Briconnet, and successively embellished by Diane de Poitiers then Catherine de Medici. Chenonceau was protected from the hardship of the revolution by Madame Dupin.
The iron, but very feminine, fist in the velvet glove has always preserved Chenonceau during times of conflict and war in order to make it forever a place of peace.
Chenonceau Castle has an exceptional museum collection of the Old Masters' paintings: Murillo, Le Tintoret, Nicolas Poussin, Le Correge, Rubens, Le Primatice, Van Loo... as well as an extremely rare selection of Flanders Tapestries from the 16th century.
Throughout its history, this emblematic Castle has always attracted talent and inspired great artists. Conveying beauty and combining the elegance of architecture with that of the spirit is also sharing an elegant way of life.
At Chenonceau Castle, the flower display in every sumptuously furnished room adds to its elegance. The room of Five Queens, the living room of Louis XIV, the grand gallery overlooking the River Cher, fabulous kitchens constructed in the piers of the bridge, the Green Cabinet of Catherine de Medici...Step by step, Chenonceau takes you back in time to share its dreams and reveal its secrets.
A visionary castle, from the Renaissance up until the Age of Enlightenment, Chenonceau has always benefited from innovation, heir of the greatest thinkers and philosophers of the time. Today, its guests, who come from all over the world, discover the quality of its reception, thanks to a free visit or audio guide with iPod video (in 11 languages).
The forecourt and the Marques tower:In rebuilding the Chenonceau chateau in the 16th century, Thomas Bohier razed the castle-keep and the fortified mill of the Marques family, erecting the new chateau upon the piers of the former mill and keeping only the ancient donjon: The Marques Tower, which he transformed in Renaissance style. The forecourt reproduces the layout of the former medieval castle demarcated by the moats. Next to the tower, there is also a well decorated with a chimaera and an eagle-the emblem of the Marques family.
The monumental entrance, dating from the period of Francis I, is made from sculpted and painted wood. It has: on the left, the coat of arms of Thomas Bohier, on the right those of his wife Katherine Briconnet-the builders of Chenonceau-topped by the salamander of Francis I and the inscription "Francois, by the grace of God, King of France and Claude, Queen of the French".
The Guard's room:Originally this room was used by armed men, where they took time off their feet to rest.
Thomas Bohier's arms decorate the 16th century chimney, and on the 16th century oak door, beneath the figures of their patron saints (Saint Catherine and Saint Thomas), the motto of Thomas Bohier and Catherine Bri?onnet: "S'il vient a point, me souviendra) meaning: "If I manage to build Chenonceau, I will be remembered".
On the walls, a suite of 16th century Flemish tapestries represents scenes from castle life, a request for marriage and a hunt. The chests are Gothic and Renaissance. During the 16th century they contained silverware, crockery and tapestries with which the Court moved from one residence to another.
The ceiling, with exposed joists, has an intertwining "H" and "C" for Henry II. and Catherine de' Medici. However, to show his love for Diane de Poitiers, Henry had the ceiling created to look like a "D" and an "H". On the floor are the remains of 16th century majolica.
The Chapelle: From the Guards' Room, the Chapel can be reached through a door topped with a Statue of the Virgin. The leaves of this oak door represent Christ and Saint Thomas, and repeat the words of the Gospel according to Saint John "Lay your finger here" "You are my Lord and my God" (John 20:27).
The original windows in this room were destroyed by a bombing in 1944; the modern stained glass windows were made by the master glassworker Max Ingrand in 1954. In the loggia on the right rests a Virgin and Child made from carrara marble by Mino da Fiesole. Dominating the nave, the royal gallery where the queens attended Mass shows the date 1521.
To the right of the altar is a finely carved credence table which is decorated with the Bohier motto.
Inscriptions were left upon the walls of the chapel by Mary, Queen of Scots' Scottish guards: on the right, "Man's anger does not accomplish God's Justice" (dated 1543) and "Do not let yourself be won over by Evil" (dated 1546).
On the walls are several paintings with religious subjects: The Virgin in a blue veil by Il Sassoferrato, Jesus preaching before Ferdinand and Isabella by Alonso Cano, Saint Anthony of Padua by Murillo, and Assumption by Jouvenet. The chapel was saved during the French Revolution by Madame Dupin, who had the idea of turning it into a wood store.
Diane de Poitiers' bedroom: The room used by Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, has a fireplace by Jean Goujon, a French sculptor of the Fontainebleau School, which bears the initials of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici: interlaced Hs and Cs that could be considered as forming the D of "Diane". The coffered ceiling also contains these initials.
The four-poster bed dates from the early 17th century and the Henry II armchairs are covered with cordovan leather. Over the fireplace is a 19th century portrait of Catherine de' Medici by Sauvage.
Two 16th century Flanders tapestries, of considerable size, portray : The triumph of Strength, riding on a chariot drawn by two lions, and surrounded by scenes from the Old Testament. The sentence in Latin running along the upper border can be translated as "He who loves the gifts of heaven with all his heart, does not shrink from deeds that Piety dictates".
Fireplace in Diane de Poitier's bedroom.- The triumph of Charity, seen on a chariot, holding a heart in her hand and pointing to the sun ; she is surrounded by biblical episodes. The Latin inscription here can be translated as : "He who shows strength of heart in the face of danger, receives Salvation as a reward at his time of death".To the left of the window, Virgin with child by Murillo.
To the right of the fireplace, there is a painting of the 18th century Italian school : Christ stripped of his clothes, by Francisco Ribalta, Jusepe de Ribera's master. Below this painting stands a bookcase holding the archives of Chenonceau ; one of the volumes, to be seen the showcase, bears the signatures of Thomas Bohier and Diane de Poitiers.
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