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

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 initia ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Paris, 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 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 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

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le ...
Founded: 1658-1661 | Location: Maincy, France

Château de Pierrefonds

The Château de Pierrefonds includes most of the characteristics of defensive military architecture from the Middle Ages, though it underwent a major restoration in the 19th century. In the 12th century, a castle was built on this site. Two centuries later, in 1392, King Charles VI turned the County of Valois (of which Pierrefonds was part) into a Duchy and gave it to his brother Louis, Duke of Orléans. From 1 ...
Founded: 1393 | Location: Pierrefonds, France

Château de Malmaison

Formerly the residence of Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais (along with the Tuileries), Château de Malmaison was the headquarters of the French government from 1800 to 1802, and Napoleon"s last residence in France at the end of the Hundred Days in 1815. Joséphine de Beauharnais bought the manor house in April 1799 for herself and her husband, General Napoléon Bonaparte, the future Napol&eac ...
Founded: 18th century | 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 service at the c ...
Founded: c. 1539 | Location: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 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 La Roche-Guyon

The present Château de La Roche-Guyon was built in the 12th century, controlling a river crossing of the Seine. In the mid-13th century, a fortified manor house was added below. Guy de La Roche fell at the Battle of Agincourt, and his widow was ousted from the Roche, after six months of siege, in 1419; she preferred to depart rather than accept Henry Plantagenet as her overlord. It came to the Liancourt family with ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: La Roche-Guyon, France

Château de Bagatelle

The Château de Bagatelle is a small neoclassical château with a French landscape garden in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The château is intended for brief stays while hunting in the Bois and it was initially built as a small hunting lodge for the Maréchal d'Estrées in 1720. Bagatelle from the Italian bagattella, means a trifle, or little decorative nothing. In 1775, the Comte d'Artois, Louis XVI's brother, purcha ...
Founded: 1777 | Location: Paris, France

Château de Sceaux

Château de Sceaux is a grand country house located in a park laid out by André Le Nôtre. It houses the Musée de l’Île-de-France, a museum of local history. The former château was built for Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV's minister of finance, who purchased the area in 1670. The present château, designed to evoke the style of Louis XIII, dates from the Second Empire. Some of Colbert's outbuildings remain, and th ...
Founded: 1856-1862 | Location: Hauts-de-Seine, 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 d'Écouen

The Château d"Écouen was built between 1538 and 1550 by the architect Jean Bullant for Anne de Montmorency, who was made Connétable de France in 1538. Anne de Montmorency had inherited the château in 1515, and his building campaigns were informed by his first-hand experience in overseeing royal works at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Fontainebleau. Anne de Montmorency was a major patron of the a ...
Founded: 1538-1550 | Location: Val-d'Oise, 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 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 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 and inherita ...
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Brie-Comte-Robert, 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 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.