Chateaux of Alpes-Maritimes

Musée Picasso

The Musée Picasso, formerly the Château Grimaldi at Antibes, is built upon the foundations of the ancient Greek town of Antipolis. The castle was a residence of the bishops in the Middle Ages (from 442 to 1385). The castle was moved in 1385 to the Monegasque family. In 1608 it became a stronghold of the Grimaldi family and has borne their name ever since. In 1702 it became the town hall of Antibes. From 19 ...
Founded: 11th century / 1966 (museum) | Location: Antibes, France

Musée de la Castre

An attack by the Saracens in 891, who remained until the end of the 10th century, devastated the country around current Cannes. The insecurity of the Lérins islands forced the local monks to settle on the mainland, at the Suquet (today the old town). Construction of a castle in 1035 fortified the city by then known as Cannes. The castle was damaged in end of the 16th century and partially demolished in the 18th centu ...
Founded: 1035 | Location: Cannes, France

Château Grimaldi

The Château Grimaldi at Cagnes-sur-Mer is built on the site of an earlier fortress occupied by the Greeks and then the Romans. The present castle was built in 1309 by Rainier Grimaldi (Lord of Cagnes and an admiral of France) - a distant ancestor of the present ruling house of Monaco. Later it became the residence of the Governors of the province. Following the French Revolution, it was used as barracks ...
Founded: 1309 | Location: Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

Château de Gourdon

Château de Gourdon was built in the 12th century on the foundations of 9th century fort when the counts of Provence organized their border between the county of Vintimille and Provence. From 1598 to 1905 the castle was the residence of the Marquis de Montauroux. The current castle was built in the 17th century, the first stage in 1610 and the second in 1653.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gourdon, France

Château de la Napoule

The Château de la Napoule was constructed in the 14th century by the Countess of Villeneuve. Over the centuries it was rebuilt several times. In the 19th century it was turned into a glass factory. In 1918, it was purchased by Americans, Henry Clews Jr. and Marie Clews (1880-1959), who restored and moved into the castle. They added additional sections in their own personal style, with sculptures by Henry Clews Jr. The ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France

Château de Roquebrune-Cap-Martin

Conrad I, Count of Vintimiglia, built the castle in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in 970 to defend the Western border of his feudal domain from attack by hordes of Saracens that rampaged around the area. Initially the entire village was encompassed by the castle. The keep's military strength was reinforced in the 15th century by the Grimaldi family. In 1808  the castle was sold as a Bien National to five Roquebrune inhabitant ...
Founded: 970 AD | Location: Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Château de La Brigue

Château de La Brigue was built by the Ventimiglia family between 1376-1379. In 1543 small bastions were added to the main building. An earthquake partially destroyed the castle in 1546, but it was used to resist a Genoese attack in 1625. The castle was set on fire by the French troops during the French revolution in 1794 and since it has been lying in ruins.
Founded: 1376-1379 | Location: La Brigue, France

Château de Carros

Château de Carros is a jewel of 12th century Provençal architecture, characterized by a rectangular main building with four towers in the corners. The first owner was Lord Rostaing de Carros (mentioned 1156), but soon after the castle was moved to the hands of De Placas family who owned it over 600 years. Since 1998 the castle has housed CIAC, International Center of Contemporary Art.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Carros, France

Château de Gréolières

Château de Gréolières was mentioned first time in 1047 when it belonged to the Viscounts of Nice. Counts of Provence decided at the end of the 12th  century to enforce eastern part of Provence against the influence of the Republic of Genoa and local nobility. To control the area of Gréolières, the Count of Provence built the new castle around 1220. In 1235 Count of Provence gave the castle to Romée de Ville ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Gréolières, France

Château de Tourrette-Levens

The modest-sized castle Château de Tourrette-Levens dates back to the 12th century. It overlooks the ancient 'salt road'. The castle was buily by Raymond Chabaud whose family owned the estate until 1684. The castle was one of the finest in the region with six towers. Only one tower survives. Today it hosts a museum devoted to entomology.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tourrette-Levens, France

Château de Gilette

Château de Gilette was built at the latest in the 13th century. It stands on a rocky spur overlooking the village. The castle was besieged and conquered several times in the 16th century. The last military action was Battle of Gilette on 18 and 19 October 1793.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gilette, France

Château de Villeneuve-Loubet

Château de Villeneuve-Loubet, property of the Panisse-Passis family, is a superb 13th-century defensive structure, with a pentagonal keep. It was built in the 13th century, at the instigation of the Counts of Provence and Romeo of Villeneuve. Ramparts and parapet walks are punctuated with five round towers and a mediaeval drawbridge. French King Francis I stayed there in 1538 to sign the Truce of Nice with the Emperor Ch ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Villeneuve-Loubet, France

Château Saint-Jeannet

The Château Saint-Jeannet is a notable French castle located about 10km northwest of Nice. Tradition tells that the site was used as a fortress as early the 9th and 10th centuries. However, the earliest known construction on the château hill can only be dated to the 11th century. Written records of a château on the site date to the 13th century. Since that time, it has been effectively destroyed and rebuilt severa ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Saint-Jeannet, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.