Chateaux of Ile-de-France

Château de Versailles

The Château de Versailles, which has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for 30 years, is one of the most beautiful achievements of 18th-century French art. The site began as Louis XIII’s hunting lodge before his son Louis XIV transformed and expanded it, moving the court and government of France to Versailles in 1682. Each of the three French kings who lived there until the French Revolution added impr ...
Founded: 1682 | Location: Versailles, France

Château de Maisons

Château de Maisons, designed by François Mansart from 1630 to 1651, is a prime example of French baroque architecture and a reference point in the history of French architecture. History The family of Longueil, long associated with the Parlement de Paris, had been in possession of part of the seigneurie of Maisons since 1460, and a full share since 1602. Beginning in 1630, and for the next decades, Ren&eacu ...
Founded: 1651 | Location: Maisons-Laffitte, France

Château de Beaumont-sur-Oise

The Château de Beaumont-sur-Oise is an ancient castle, one of the most important in the valley of the Oise. It has a rectangular Romanesque keep with buttresses 25m high and 5m wide. It was probably built by the count Mathieu (1090-1151) to replace a preceding timber structure of the castrum type which had existed from the 3rd century on this rocky outcrop. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times between the 10th ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Beaumont-sur-Oise, France

Château de Diant

The Château de Diant was originally constructed in the 13th century for a companion of Philippe Auguste, with additions and modifications in the 15th century and the first half of the 19th. The castle has been protected since 1946. The gardens are also listed. The castle and gardens are privately owned are not open to the public.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Diant, France

Château d'Agnou

In the 12th century, a castle called the Château Saint-Vincent was raised on the spot of the present manor. Built in the faubourg of Agnou, within the fiefdom of the Boutigny family, it stood outside the long walls that enclosed Maule. The Boutignys owned the castle from the 13th century on: first Hugues de Boutigny, Lord of Gavral, then his son Jean de Boutigny. However, it was later dismantled by order of King Lou ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Maule, France

Château de Courances

The Château de Courances was built around 1630. In 1552, Côme Clausse, a notary and royal secretary to the King, acquired the former seigneurial dwelling at Courances, at the western edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau. His heir conveyed it in 1622 to Claude Gallard, another royal secretary, who is doubtless the builder of the present château, of an H-plan laid out on a rectangular platform that is surro ...
Founded: 1630 | Location: Courances, France

Château de Brie-Comte-Robert

Château de Brie-Comte-Robert was built at the end of the 12th century, when Robert I of Dreux, brother of the king Louis VII, was lord of Brie. Archaeological clues, elements of decoration and the choice of construction techniques, suggest the architecture of this turning point in history. The castle remained in the Dreux family until 1254, then passed to the family of Châtillon. Through successive dowries an ...
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Brie-Comte-Robert, France

Château de Rambouillet

The château de Rambouillet is the summer residence of the Presidents of the French Republic. The château was originally a fortified manor dating back to 1368 and, although amputated of one of its sides at the time of Napoleon I, it still retains its pentagonal bastioned footprint. King Francis I died there, on 31 March 1547, probably in the imposing medieval tower that bears his name. The château was own ...
Founded: 1368 | Location: Rambouillet, France

Château d'Étampes

The Château d"Étampes was a castle in the town of Étampes. The principal remains are of the 12th-century keep, the Tour de Guinette. The Château d"Étampes was an early 10th-century stronghold of Robert the Pious, King of France, that comprised both a palace proper and motte. Between 1130 and 1150, a new castle was created overlooking the valley, culminating in a strong keep or d ...
Founded: 1130-1150 | Location: Étampes, France

Conciergerie

The Conciergerie is a former prison and part of the former royal palace, the Palais de la Cité, which consisted of the Conciergerie, Palais de Justice and the Sainte-Chapelle. Hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution were taken from the Conciergerie to be executed on the guillotine at a number of locations around Paris. The west part of the island was originally the site of a Merovingian palace, and was ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Paris, France

Château d'Auvers

Chateau d"Auvers was built in 1635 by Italian banker, Zaboni Lioni. It was completely renewed in 1756 by the family of Espremenil. Today the chateau is an art museum focusing on an impressionist art. The gardens are also worth of visit.
Founded: 1635 | Location: Auvers-sur-Oise, France

Château de Rosny-sur-Seine

The Château de Rosny-sur-Seine was built of bricks and limestone by Maximilien de Béthune, duke of Sully, on the site of an old fortified manor that had been dismantled and burned in 1435. In 1529, the old building passed by marriage to Jean de Béthune, the grandfather of Sully, who was born at the old house, but it was modest by the standards of the day, and he had it replaced in the last years of the ...
Founded: c. 1598 | Location: Rosny-sur-Seine, France

Château de Chantilly

The Château de Chantilly comprises two attached buildings: the Petit Château built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency, and the Grand Château, which was destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s. Owned by the Institut de France, the château houses the Musée Condé. It is one of the finest art galleries in France and is open to the public. The estate"s connec ...
Founded: 1560/1875 | Location: Chantilly, France

Château de Fontainebleau

The architecture and decor of the Fontainebleau palace exerted considerable influence on the artistic evolution not only of France but also of Europe. François I intended to make a new Rome of this royal residence. It was in this spirit that he brought artists of renown from Italy, whose intervention marks the decisive stage in the introduction of the aesthetic formulas of the Renaissance into France. Used by the kings ...
Founded: 1528 | Location: Fontainebleau, France

Château de Compiègne

The Château de Compiègne is a royal residence built for Louis XV and restored by Napoleon. Compiègne was one of three seats of royal government, the others being Versailles and Fontainebleau. It is located in Compiègne in the Oise department and is open to the public. Even before the chateau was constructed, Compiègne was the preferred summer residence for French monarchs, primarily for ...
Founded: 1751 | Location: Compiègne, France

Château de Champs-sur-Marne

The Château de Champs, at Champs-sur-Marne was built in its present form for the treasurer Charles Renouard de la Touane in 1699 by Pierre Bullet. After the first proprietor"s bankruptcy, another financier, Paul Poisson de Bourvalais, took up the project. Jean-Baptiste Bullet de Chamblain, the son of Pierre Bullet, finished Champs in 1706. Ten years later, Paul Poisson was in the Bastille on charges of embezzl ...
Founded: 1699 | Location: Champs-sur-Marne, France

Château de la Petite Malmaison

The Château de la Petite Malmaison was built between 1803 and 1805 for Joséphine de Beauharnais, owner of the neighboring Château de Malmaison. It was a reception pavilion adjacent to a large greenhouse, since destroyed. The large greenhouse was begun in 1804 by the landscape architect Jean-Marie Morel and completed by the end of 1805 according to plans by Jean-Thomas Thibault and his partner Barth&eacu ...
Founded: 1803-1804 | Location: Rueil-Malmaison, France

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a former royal palace which houses today the National Museum of Archaeology. The first castle was built on the site by Louis VI in around 1122. The castle was expanded by Louis IX of France in the 1230s. Louis IX"s chapelle Saint Louis at the castle belongs to the Rayonnant phase of French Gothic architecture. A 1238 charter of Louis IX instituting a regular religious servic ...
Founded: c. 1539 | Location: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France

Château de Maintenon

The Château de Maintenon is best known as being the private residence of the second spouse of Louis XIV, Madame de Maintenon. The construction of the castle began in the 12th and ended roughly in the 18th century. In the early 16th century it was purchased by Louis XII's treasurer Jean Cottereau, who transformed the castle into a country house. In the 17th century it was rebuilt for Madame de Maintenon, who purchase ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Maintenon, France

Château de Vincennes

The Château de Vincennes is a massive 14th and 17th century French royal castle in the town of Vincennes in a suburb of Paris metropolis. Like other more famous châteaux it had its origins in a hunting lodge, constructed for Louis VII about 1150 in the forest of Vincennes. In the 13th century, Philip Augustus and Louis IX erected a more substantial manor: Louis IX is reputed to have departed from Vincennes on ...
Founded: 1340-1410 | Location: Vincennes, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.