Chateaux of Berry

Château de Valençay

Château de Valençay is a residence of the d'Estampes and Talleyrand-Périgord families. Although geographically it is part of the province of Berry, its architecture invites comparison with the Renaissance châteaux of the Loire Valley, notably the Château de Chambord. The manor was praised as "one of the most beautiful on earth" by George Sand, who also noted that "no king has owned a more p ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Valençay, France

Château de Mehun-sur-Yèvre

The existence of a fortification at the site of Mehun-sur-Yèvre dates from antiquity. The major remains are of the early 13th century and the later 14th century. The present standing ruins date from a castle founded under the Courtenays after 1209. This fortress was transformed into a princely residence by John, Duke of Berry in 1367. Largely ruined in the 18th century the castle represented an excellent example of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mehun-sur-Yèvre, France

Château d'Ainay-le-Vieil

Built in 1300, Château d’Ainay-le-Vieil is surrounded by a moat of running water. Jacques Coeur bought the château in 1435 and Charles de Bigny (ancestor of the current owners) acquired in 1467. He built the main building in the late Gothic with Italian style. In the large living room, a fireplace, one of the most beautiful fireplaces of the Loire Valley, remains of the visit of King Louis XII and Queen ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ainay-le-Vieil, France

Château de Meillant

The well-preserved Château de Meillant was built for Charles d’Amboise in 1510 by Italian craftsmen. It represents a fine composition of late Gothic and early Renaissance architecture. The château is dominated by the Lion’s Tower, an octagonal three-storey staircase tower. Other highlights of the visit include the château’s graceful chapel and its surrounding grounds. The plainer west ...
Founded: 1510 | Location: Meillant, France

Château de Culan

The Château de Culan is a French medieval castle located in the commune of Culan. The castle, listed as a Monument historique at the start of the 20th century and classified for its walls and roofs in 1956, has known a turbulent history. It is built on a rocky outcrop dominating the River Arnon (a site naturel classé - classified natural site). The first wooden construction, of which nothing remains, was demo ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Culan, France

Château de la Verrerie

The fine early Renaissance château is located on the edge of the Forêt d’Ivoy. The land was given to the Scot Sir John Stuart by Charles VII, in thanks for defeating the English at the battle of Baugé in 1421. However, the château was not built until the end of the 15th century, at which time Béraud Stuart, the grandson of John Stuart, returning from a campaign in Italy, constructed t ...
Founded: ca. 1500 | Location: Oizon, France

Château de Villegongis

The elegant and moated Château de Villegongis was probably built by Pierre Nepveu, one of the master masons for Chambord. Since the 15th century the ownership has stayed in the same family. Barely touched since that time, it is one of the purest examples of the French Renaissance style. The château’s most striking features are its richly decorated chimneys, which suggest the link with Chambord, and its ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Villegongis, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Goseck Circle

The Goseck circle is a Neolithic circle structure. It may be the oldest and best known of the Circular Enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. It also may be one of the oldest Solar observatories in the world. It consists of a set of concentric ditches 75 metres across and two palisade rings containing gates in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the solstice days.

Its construction is dated to c. 4900 BC, and it seems to have remained in use until 4600 BC. This corresponds to the transitional phase between the Neolithic Linear Pottery and Stroke-ornamented ware cultures. It is one of a larger group of so-called Circular Enclosures in the Elbe and Danube region, most of which show similar alignments.

Excavators also found the remains of what may have been ritual fires, animal and human bones, and a headless skeleton near the southeastern gate, that could be interpreted as traces of human sacrifice or specific burial ritual. There is no sign of fire or of other destruction, so why the site was abandoned is unknown. Later villagers built a defensive moat following the ditches of the old enclosure.

The Goseck ring is one of the best preserved and extensively investigated of the many similar structures built at around the same time. Traces of the original configuration reveal that the Goseck ring consisted of four concentric circles, a mound, a ditch, and two wooden palisades. The palisades had three sets of gates facing southeast, southwest, and north. At the winter solstice, observers at the center would have seen the sun rise and set through the southeast and southwest gates.

Archaeologists generally agree that Goseck circle was used for observation of the course of the Sun in the course of the solar year. Together with calendar calculations, it allowed coordinating an easily judged lunar calendar with the more demanding measurements of a solar calendar.