Chateaux of Normandy

Château de Bonnemare

Château de Bonnemare was built to the site of medieval manor in the mid-1500s by Nicolas Leconte. Later it has been owned among others by Étienne de Fieux (1637), Cromelin de Villette family (18th century), Charles Le Blond, and Gustave Gatine (1888), the predecessor of current owners. The castle consists of main building, gatehouse and Renaissance chapel from the 16th century. Today Bonnemare is a hotel. The notable d ...
Founded: 1570 | Location: Radepont, France

Château de Cany

With its majestic main courtyard and its outbuildings, the Château de Cany still evokes the austere splendor of Louis XIII. It was built between 1640 and 1646 by François Mansart. It still preserves its old furnishing and is today a hotel.
Founded: 1640-1646 | Location: Cany Barville, France

Château du Champ de Bataille

Château du Champ-de-Bataille is Baroque castle built in the 17th century for the Maréchal de Créqui. In 1650 Alexandre de Créquy-Bernieulle (1628–1703) was arrested and exiled to the province by Cardinal Mazarin. He built the Château du Champ-de-Bataille between 1653 and 1665. The French formal garden was created beginning in 1992 by a new owner, interior designer Jacques Garcia. It ...
Founded: 1653-1655 | Location: Sainte-Opportune-du-Bosc, 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 Breuil

Built in the 16th and 17th centuries, Château du Breuil has been a residence of families Bouquetot, Montgomery, Bence and others. Today it is also one of most prestigious Calvados distilleries (created in 1954). It offers to its visitors guided tours as well as tastings of old Calvados around the year.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Breuil-en-Auge, France

Château des Montgommery

The Ducey domain came into the hands of the old Norman Montgommery family in 1521 after the wedding of James Montgommery to Claude de la Boissière, the heiress to the lands of Ducey. The castle was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Gabriel II de Montgommery, one of the sons of Montgommery first who became famous for killing Henry II, king of France, by accident in a tournament on 30th June 1559. He conv ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Ducey, 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 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 d'Ételan

In 1494 Louis Picart, magistrate of Troyes and Tournaisis, friend and chamberlain of King Louis XII with whom he went to Italy, undertook the construction of the Château d"Ételan. It was built on the site of a fortress which has been destroyed under the order of Louis XI. Of the medieval construction, only the cellar, the castle wall and the guard house dating from 1350 remain. The castle was later conv ...
Founded: 1494 | Location: Saint-Maurice-d'Ételan, France

Château de Verneuil-sur-Avre Ruins

Château de Verneuil-sur-Avre has attested since XIe century. It formed with Tillières-on-Avre and Nonancourt a defensive curtain against the possible incursions in Normandy of the counts de Chartres. Philippe Auguste built there after 1204 one of his famous circular towers.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Verneuil-sur-Avre, 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 Montfort-sur-Risle

Château de Montfort-sur-Risle was built in 1035 by Count Hugues I. It was destroyed already in 1204 during the siege by John, King of England. Since them it has lied in ruins.
Founded: 1035 | Location: Montfort-sur-Risle, France

Chambois Keep

The Norman keep or Donjon in Chambois was built in the 12th century. One of the rare surviving square keeps in Normandy. It can be seen from outside.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Chambois, France

Château d'Ô

Château d"Ô was built in the 15th and 17th centuries with a flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance style. A moat surrounds the castle. Guided tours are available parts to the orangery and inside the castle.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Mortrée, France

Château d'Ivry-la-Bataille

The original square form castle in Ivry-la-Bataille was built around 960 AD. It was 32x25m wide stone building with a small chapel. Today the first floor of this castle remains and it is the oldest medieval building in Normandy. The castle was enlarged during the next centuries. In the Hundred Years" War it was conquered by English (1418), but moved back to the hands of French (1424). After 1449 the castle was left t ...
Founded: 960 AD | Location: Ivry-la-Bataille, France

Château de Galleville

Château de Galleville is remarkable for ifs great unity of style. The castle was built in 1678 by Roque de Varengeville, counsellor to King Louis XIV and also his ambassador in Venice (a city in which he would develop a passion for stucco architecture, later applying this decorative technique to the chateau"s chapel. A continuous line of ownership by inheritance or marriage can be traced from the present owners ...
Founded: 1678 | Location: Galleville, France

Château-sur-Epte Ruins

The Château-sur-Epte Castle construction was begun in 1097 by William Rufus, King of England, to reinforce the frontier of Epte. The castle occupied a site on the border between the Duchy of Normandy and the Kingdom of France. In 1119, it was besieged by Louis VI of France and reinforced by the Plantagenets in the 12th century and again during the Hundred Years" War. In the 12th century, it was restored and re ...
Founded: 1097 | Location: Château-sur-Epte, France

Château de Pontécoulant

Pontécoulant estate presents all the distinctive features of nobility: castle, gamekeeper and gardener"s detached house, dovecote, landscaping park, vegetable garden, guest houses, farm, woods and grounds. The Le Doulcet de Pontécoulant family arrived there in the 14th century. Their home was rebuilt in the 16th century and enlarged in the 17th. Since the second part of 17th century, the family has live ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Pontécoulant, France

Château de Sassy

Château de Sassy was built of stone and bricks in the 18th century. It has imposing four levels of terraces. The Duke d’Audiffret-Pasquier, ancestor of the present owners, bought Sassy in 1850 and converted the east wing into a library, in order to house the important Parisian collection of his uncle, the Chancellor Pasquier. Visitors can admire a fine furniture, various Aubusson and Gobelins tapestries and i ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Saint-Christophe-le-Jajolet, France

Manoir de Villers

The Manoir de Villers was built between courtyard and garden in 1581. A 'Master House' was made of local stone, with a half-timbered storey covered with small tiles. It was transformed and extended through centuries, to become this great manor in neo-Norman style, with the roofing inspired from the best houses of Rouen, and façade dressed up with a strange 'trompe l"oeil'. Welcomed in the h ...
Founded: 1581 | Location: Saint-Pierre-de-Manneville, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.