Chenonceau Castle. France
The castle of Chenonceau – one of the most popular, well-known and visited castles in France – is located near a small village of the same name in the Indre-et-Loire department of the Loire Valley. Chenonceau is also called le Chateau des Dames – Ladies’ Castle, because of the long list of brilliant proprietresses.
Chateau de Chenonceau was built in 1514–1522 on the foundations of an old mill. Later it was extended to span the River Cher. The bridge was built in 1556-1559 due to the projects of the French Renaissance architect Philibert de l’Orme.
Originally, the castle of Chenonceau belonged to the Marques family, from 1243. More precisely, they owned a fortress surrounded by mirrored waters of the river Cher. Near the fortress there was a mill. After the events when it was burned in 1412 to punish the owner for an act of sedition, the castle was rebuilt in the 1430s.
Closer to the XVI century, the Marques family put up for sale some lands of the estate. Thus, the history of the transition of the castle’s ownership began. Every new owner of these territories brought something new to the image of the castle.
Thomas Bohier, the intendant of the financial affairs in Normandy, gradually bought the castle territory. In 1512 he also bought the castle. He was so fond of the Renaissance that destroyed the entire structure, except donjon, and transformed it into a new architectural creation. So it became a “castle-residence” without great walls and battlements.
The next owner of the castle was the Diane de Poitiers. In 1551 she decorated the territory with sumptuous parks and orchard. It was Diana who built a magnificent arched bridge across the river. To the present day it gives the impression that the building is floating on the water.
Then, Catherine de Medici decided to realign the surroundings of the architectural complex according to her preferences. Thus, various innovations have appeared here – stately arches, charmed fountains and obelisks, tall columns and astonishing statues. Lush gardens added charm to this estate. And now, there are two gardens which surround the castle: the first – created by Diane de Poitiers, and the second – by Catherine de Medici.
In 1580 the architect Androuet du Cerceau built a new wing on the bridge over the River Cher.
Thus, Chateau de Chenonceau has undergone various changes and modifications with each new owner. In 1864 Marguerite Pelouze bought the castle and returned its former appearance. In 1914 it was converted into a hospital, and during the Second World War it was a haven for guerrillas.
For today, the castle has been completely renovated and is opened to the public. Here you will find the wax museum, magnificent gardens, lovely alleys, the beauty of the architectural design. This palace is so festive and solemn – it is quite obvious that his owners were mostly women.