Chateaux of Normandy

Château de Saint-Just

The Château de Saint-Just is a Renaissance castle with a one of the most the remarkable gardens of France. The first chateau was built in the 13th century, but only a few foundations remain. Near the end of the 16th century, Jacques de Croixmare built a new residence on the site. A record of the property in the fief of Saint-Just, written in 1608, mentions a manor, common buildings, an orangerie, a garden and a kitchen g ...
Founded: 1608 | Location: Saint-Just, France

Château de Rouen

Château de Rouen was a castle built by Philip II of France from 1204 to 1210 following his capture of the duchy from John, duke of Normandy and king of England. Located outside the medieval town to its north, in a dominant position, it played a military role in the Hundred Years" War and the Wars of Religion. It was the main seat of power, administration and politics in the duchy of Normandy for nearly 400 year ...
Founded: 1204-1210 | Location: Rouen, France

Château de Vire Ruins

Château de Vire was built in the 11th and 12th centuries. Today only a keep, donjon, remains.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Vire, France

Château de Colombières

Château de Colombières dates back to the 11th century. It was a fortress occupied by William, Raoul and Baudouin of Colombières, comrades in arms of William the Conqueror during the invasion of England in 1066. However the oldest parts of the present castle date back to the end of the 14th century. The wealthy Bacon du Molay built the fortress with the defensive architecture: a quadrangle flanked by fo ...
Founded: c. 1372 | Location: Colombières, France

Château de Dieppe

Château de Dieppe was founded in 1188 and destroyed in 1195. The site was restored in the 14th century. The castle was largely reconstructed by Charles des Marets in 1433. The castle is composed of a quadrangular enclosure with round flanking towers and a lower court adjacent. The large west tower dates perhaps from the 14th century, and served as the keep. Several architectural styles are represented, and flint and ...
Founded: 1188 | Location: Dieppe, France

Château de Caen

The Norman Château de Caen was built in c. 1060 by William the Conqueror, who successfully conquered England in 1066. His son Henry I then built the Saint Georges church, a keep (1123) and a large hall for the Duke Court. At Christmas 1182, a royal court celebration for Christmas in the aula of Caen Castle brought together Henry II and his sons, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland, receiving more than a thousand ...
Founded: c. 1060 | Location: Caen, France

Château de Fécamp

Château de Fécamp originates from the 10th century and the stone castle was built in the 11th century. It was the residence of the first dukes of Normandy. perhaps as early as William Longsword and probably with his successors Richard I and Richard II, who are buried to the near Fécamp Abbey. The castle was damaged in the 19th century during the construction work of raiway.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Fécamp, France

Château de Falaise

Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years" War. The castle was ...
Founded: 1123 | Location: Falaise, France

Château de Fleury-la-Forêt

Château de Fleury-la-Forêt is an impressive red-brick castle built in 1595 by Pierre de Courcol. It was partially destroyed by fire in 1643, but restored by Charles de Caumont later. The new chapel was founded in 1658. The two wings were added during the next restoration in 1700. Today Château de Fleury-la-Forêt is a hotel.
Founded: 1595 | Location: Fleury-la-Forêt, France

Château des Ducs d'Alençon

The 15th century Château des Ducs was a massive castle in Alençon. The first castle, built in the 11th century, is completely disappeared today. The next castle was built by Peter II, the count of Alençon between 1361-1404. It was demolished 1592. Today only a impressive gatehouse and part of the walls remain.
Founded: 1361-1404 | Location: Alençon, France

Château du Bourg-Saint-Léonard

Château du Bourg-Saint-Léonard is a sumptuous building from the end of the 18th century, surrounded by stables, an orangery and a 400 ha park. The interior is decorated with beautiful furniture, Aubusson tapestries, woodwork from the 18th century and restored stairwell.
Founded: 18th century | Location: Le Bourg-Saint-Léonard, France

Château de Gisors

The Château de Gisors was a key fortress of the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was intended to defend the Anglo-Norman Vexin territory from the pretensions of the King of France. King William II of England ordered Robert of Bellême to build the first castle at Gisors. The first building work is dated to about 1095, and consisted of a motte, which was enclosed in a spacious courtyard or ba ...
Founded: 1095 | Location: Gisors, France

Château d'Harcourt

Château d'Harcourt is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. The home of the Harcourt family, the castle is one of the best preserved castles in the country and contains the oldest arboretum in France. Although the lords of Harcourt trace their origins to the year 1000, the first written record of the castle dates from the second half of 12th century. Robert II d"Harcourt was a companion in the crusade of Richard Lionhe ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Harcourt, France

Château de Saint-Gervais

The first record of Château de Saint-Gervais dates back to the year 1198. In 1651 Jean de Carrey, Advisor to the King in his finance chamber, acquires the titles of Lord of Saint Gervais. The destruction of the original chateau occured at the time of the Revolution (1794). In 1837 the land and property at Saint Gervais was acquired by Michel Pierre Alexis Hebert, barrister in the High Court subsequent Garde des Scea ...
Founded: 1840 | Location: Asnières, France

Château d'Orcher

Château d"Orcher was built to protect the mouth of the River Seine. The square keep was surrounded by a trapezoidal enceinte, defended in the 13th century by three square towers. In 1360 it was partly destroyed on the orders of officials from Harfleur. Rebuilt later, it was taken by the English in 1415 at the same time as Harfleur. Thomas Planterose took possession of Château d"Orcher in 1735 and o ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gonfreville-l'Orcher, France

Château de Gaillon

Château de Gaillon was one of the first Renaissance buildings in France. Georges d"Amboise, Cardinal Archbishop of Rouen, started the reconstruction of medieval fort in 1502. It was completed in 1510 and the next cardinal continued the decoration work until 1550. It became one of the most ambitious and significant French building projects of its time, representing the early Renaissance palatial style. Georges ...
Founded: 1502-1550 | Location: Gaillon, France

Château du Neubourg

Château du Neubourg dates from the 12th century, when it was owned by Henry I, the King of England. The castle lost its military role in the 17th century. In 1782-1783 the eastern parts were demolished.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Le Neubourg, France

Château de Conches-en-Ouche

The construction of Château de Conches-en-Ouche started in 1034 by Roger I of Tosny. The castle was captured by Philip II of France in 1199 and again by the English during the Hundred Years" War in 1364. It was recaptured by Bertrand du Guesclin in 1371. The castle was lost again in 1420, retaken in 1440, lost once more in 1441 before being finally taken by the French in 1449. In 1591, members of the Catholic L ...
Founded: 1034 | Location: Conches-en-Ouche, France

Château d'Amfreville

Château d"Amfreville was originally established in the late 1100s by Richard de Reviers. It was a enclosed castle with a moat. The main building was rebuilt as a manor house in the 17th century and most of the annex buildings in the 18th century. The gate tower from the 14th century still exists.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Amfreville, France

Château de Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte

Château de Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte was built in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was besieged twice during the Hundred Years War. The city walls were breached by cannon in 1374. This is believed to have been among the first successful uses of guns against city walls in history. Today it is partially ruined, but still a notable castle with massive 14th century towers and a 12-15th century abbey.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.