Chateaux of Brittany

Château de Saint-Malo

Château de Saint-Malo was built between 1424 and 1690, first by Jean V, the Duke of Brittany. The Duke Francois II built the first tower in 1475. In 1590 during the Wars of Religion the castle was occupied by local people, who wanted to prevent local governor to gave the city to Protestant king Henry IV. The château was modified in the 17th century according the design of famous fortress architect Sebastian V ...
Founded: 1424 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Château de Fougères

The Château de Fougères is an impressive castle with curtain wall and 13 towers. It had three different enclosures, first for defensive purposes, second for day to day usages in peacetime and for safety of the surrounding populations in times of siege, the last enclosure was where the keep was situated. The first wooden fort was built by the House of Amboise in the 11th century. It was destroyed in 1166 after it was be ...
Founded: c. 1167 | Location: Fougères, France

Fort-la-Latte

Fort-la-Latte or Castle of La Latte was built on a small piece of land at the Baie de la Fresnaye in the 14th century. In 1379 it was conquered by Bertrand du Guesclin. It was besieged by the English in 1490 and by the holy League in 1597. Garangeau under the reign of Louis XIV turned the castle into a fortress, using Vauban"s building plans. They used canon batteries, stationed in Fort La Latte, to defend Saint-Malo ...
Founded: 1340 | Location: Plévenon, France

Château de Josselin

Château de Josselin was built in the 11th century and rebuilt at various times since. Guéthénoc, vicomte of Porhoët, Rohan and Guéméné, began to build the first castle on the site around the year 1008, choosing a rocky promontory overlooking the valley of the Oust. The site chosen for the castle was excellent from both the commercial and the military points of view, and since the 9th century there had also existed ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Josselin, France

Château de Clisson

Within then independent Brittany, Château de Clisson, situated at a crossroads for Anjou and Poitou, was one of the great fortified places on the frontiers of the Duchy of Brittany. The first Lords of Clisson occupied the site from the 11th century. They are mentioned for the first time in 1040. Clisson was then the seat of a powerful châtellenie covering 23 parishes. Most of the present castle was built in the 13th ce ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Clisson, France

Château de Vitré

The first castle in Vitré was built of wood on a feudal motte around the year 1000 on the Sainte-Croix hill. The castle was burned down on several occasions, and eventually was bequeathed to the Benedictine monks of Marmoutier Abbey. The first stone castle was built by the baron Robert I of Vitré at the end of the 11th century. The defensive site chosen, a rocky promontory, dominated the valley of the Vilaine. A Romane ...
Founded: c. 1090 | Location: Vitré, France

Château de Brest

The Château de Brest is one of the largest roadsteads (sheltered area outside a harbor) in the world. From the Roman castellum to Vauban"s citadel, the site has over 1700 years of history, holding right up to the present day its original role as a military fortress and a strategic location of the highest importance. It is thus the oldest castle in the world still in use. The structure"s heterogeneous archi ...
Founded: 200 AD | Location: Brest, France

Château de Suscinio

The Château de Suscinio was built in the late Middle Ages as the residence of the Dukes of Brittany. The spectacular site comprises the moated castle, a ruined chapel, a dovecote, and a few ruined outbuildings. Designed to be a place of leisure, between the seaside and a forest full of game for hunting, the castle"s first logis seigneurial (seigniorial house) dates from the beginning of the 13th century. The c ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Sarzeau, France

Château de la Roche-Jagu

Built in the 15th century on the site of an earlier medieval fort, the Gothic Château de la Roche-Jagu was much larger originally. The one main wing left standing has severe good looks. There are few openings of any sort on the side dominating the river, reflecting its defensive role. However, a staggering line of 19 chimneys in a row adds a decorative flourish along the crest of the building. The façade on the other si ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ploëzal, France

Château de Dinan

The Château de Dinan consists of a keep and gate, which are part of the 2,600 metres of medieval ramparts which still surround the old town. The keep is called Donjon de la duchesse Anne (Keep of the Duchess Anne), and stands 34m high near the Saint Louis gate. John V, Duke of Brittany built the keep in 1382-1383. The keep is formed by a union of two tall circular towers; a moat and drawbridge divides the keep from ...
Founded: 1382-1383 | Location: Dinan, France

Château de Keriolet

Keriolet manor dates back to the 15th century. It was redesigned in the 19th century by princess Zénaïde Narischkine Youssoupoff, the aunt of Russian Tsar Nikolai II, for her young spouse, the Count of Chauveau in Concarneau, a commoner for whom she purchased two noble titles. Extremely fond of the region, the princess"s design uses numerous symbols to represent Breton history and tradition (Breton couples in ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Concarneau, France

Château de Kerjean

The construction of Château de Kerjean began in 1670 by Louis Barbier. It is one of the most largest and glorious castles in the region. Today Kerjean is open to the public and there is a 20-hectares park surrounding the castle.
Founded: 1670 | Location: Saint-Vougay, France

Château de Trévarez

The Château de Trévarez is a stately home commissioned by James Kerjégu, Chairman of the General Council of Finistère, and built at the end of the 19th century by the French architect Walter-André Destailleur. Trévarez is one of the most recent châteaux built in France. Construction was completed around the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1941, the château was t ...
Founded: 1893 | Location: Saint-Goazec, France

Château de Mayenne

Château de Mayenne was originally a wooden castle on a steep rock built in the 8th century AD. It was rebuilt as a stone castle in 920, but burnt down in 1063 during the Breton wars against Wilhelm the Conqueror. The castle was enlarged in the 13th century. In the late Middle Ages Mayenne castle was no longer used as a a residence, but it was a garrison and magazine. English army occupied it twice during the Hundred ...
Founded: 778 AD | Location: Mayenne, France

Château de la Hunaudaye

The Château de la Hunaudaye was built by Olivier Tournemine around 1220. In that time, this castle protected the eastern border of the Penthièvre (Lamballe’s area), which was involved in a feud with the Poudouvre (Dinan’s area). The castle was destroyed in 1341, during the war of Brittany Succession, a civil war that ravaged the Brittany dukedom during two decades. At the end of the 14th century, ...
Founded: c. 1220 | Location: Plédéliac, France

Château de Pont-L'Abbé

Château de Pont-L'Abbé spans from the 14th to 18th centuries. The 'wedding' room decorated with Mathurin Méheut pieces of art (Sainte-Marine port), Henri Sollier and Jacques Godin. The structure now serves as the town hall and houses the Bigouden Museum, with its fine collection of costumes and Bigouden head-dresses.
Founded: 1385 | Location: Pont-l'Abbé, France

Château de Quintin

Château de Quintin was mentioned as 'castellum novum' in 1202 and it was probably a fortified manor built in the late 1100s by Alain de Penthièvre. Geoffroy I Boterel built the first actual castle in the middle 1200s. it consisted of a moat, four gates, curtain walls and towers. The castle was badly damaged in the Wars of Religion (1590s). The next castle was built as a living residence in 1643 and ...
Founded: 1643 | Location: Quintin, France

Château de Combourg

The original castle on the site of current Château de Combourg was built around 1025 by Archbishop Guinguené, who gave it to his illegitimate brother Riwallon. Major alterations were made between the 15th and 19th centuries. The castle consists of four large, powerful buildings of dressed granite, with crenellations and machicolations, enclosing a rectangular courtyard. In each corner of this massive fortress is a round ...
Founded: 1025 | Location: Combourg, France

Château du Guildo

Château du Guildo dates from the 11th century, when there was a fortified manor, probably made of wood. The stone castle was built in the 13th century in three phases. It was destroyed a century later and the new castle construction began in the late 1300s. Later it was restored as a living residence, but badly damaged in the late 1400s during the French-Breton War. The castle took part also to the Wars of Religion, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer, France

Château de Trémazan

Château de Trémazan was constructed on a rocky outcrop and had a square keep which, following a partial collapse during the winter of 1995, exposed the interior to reveal a habitable tower of four floors, each with one chamber. The history of Trémazan is intimately linked to that of the du Chastel (or Châtel) family. It was they who built it and made it their principal residence for several centuries. The origins of ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Landunvez, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.