Chateaux of the Loire Valley

Château de Culan

The Château de Culan is a French medieval castle located in the commune of Culan. The castle, listed as a Monument historique at the start of the 20th century and classified for its walls and roofs in 1956, has known a turbulent history. It is built on a rocky outcrop dominating the River Arnon (a site naturel classé - classified natural site). The first wooden construction, of which nothing remains, was demo ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Culan, France

Château de La Celle-Guenand

Château de La Celle-Guenand was originally founded as a monastery in the 10th century. Later in the 15th century it was reconstructed as a castle. The first known lord of this medieval château was Antoine de Guenand. From the 16th century until 1780 the estate was held by the Coutance family. Religious conflict in 1779 had led to the removal of the pastor of La Celle-Guenand and the two parishes were merged, ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: La Celle-Guenand, France

Château de Serrant

The Château de Serrant is a Renaissance château built on the foundations of a medieval fortress. From the 14th century the castle was held by the Brie family. Charles de Brie was inspired to start modernisation early in the 16th century, but lack of funds meant the project was halted with only the North Tower completed. Ownership of the castle then changed hands several times before Guillaume de Bautru, a Sta ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Saint-Georges-sur-Loire, France

Château de Beauregard

The Château de Beauregard is a Renaissance castle located on the territory of the commune of Cellettes. Most of the château was built around 1545, when it was bought by Jean du Thiers, Lord of Menars, and Secretary of State to Henri II. The commissioned interior included frescoes on the fireplace of the royal chamber, which have survived. In the Great Gallery there is a fireplace in Italian style from this per ...
Founded: 1545 | Location: Cellettes, France

Château d'Usse

The Château d'Ussé stronghold at the edge of the Chinon forest overlooking the Indre Valley was first fortified in the 11th century by the Norman seigneur of Ussé, Gueldin de Saumur, who surrounded the fort with a palisade on a high terrace. The site passed to the Comte de Blois, who rebuilt in stone. In the 15th century, the ruined castle of Ussé was purchased by Jean V de Bueil, a captain-gen ...
Founded: 1440s | Location: Rigny-Ussé, France

Château de Villegongis

The elegant and moated Château de Villegongis was probably built by Pierre Nepveu, one of the master masons for Chambord. Since the 15th century the ownership has stayed in the same family. Barely touched since that time, it is one of the purest examples of the French Renaissance style. The château’s most striking features are its richly decorated chimneys, which suggest the link with Chambord, and its ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Villegongis, France

Château de la Bourdaisière

Château de la Bourdaisière origins date back to the 14th century when it was a fortress belonging to Jean Meingre. Over the next few generations, the property changed hands several time, until 1520 when King Francis I arranged for construction of a new castle on the site. Built for his mistress, Marie Gaudin, the wife of Philibert Babou, Superintendent of Finances for France, after her death, the property wou ...
Founded: 1520 | Location: Montlouis-sur-Loire, France

Château de Chamerolles

The Château de Chamerolles was built in the first half of 16th century by Lancelot I, chamberlain of Louis XII and Bailiff of Orléans under King François I. His son, Lancelot II agreed to Protestantism in 1562 and housed a Protestant church in Chamerolles. The castle became a center of the Protestant religion in the region. Chamerolles was a typical castle with square form and round towers in every corner. It is comple ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Chilleurs-aux-Bois, France

Château du Rivau

The Château du Rivau is a castle-palace in Lémeré. It is intimately linked to the illustrious Beauvau family, related to the Counts of Anjou. During the 13th century, the Beauvau family served the Kings of France and were allied to the royal family through the marriage of Isabeau de Beauvau to Jean II de Bourbon in 1454. During the 17th century, Le Rivau was protected by Richelieu as his sister Fran&cc ...
Founded: 1445 | Location: Lémeré, France

Château de Chenonceau

The Château de Chenonceau (Chenonceau Castle) is a manor house near the small village of Chenonceaux. It was built on the site of an old mill on the River Cher, sometime before its first mention in writing in the 11th century. The current manor was designed by the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme. The original manor was torched in 1412 to punish owner Jean Marques for an act of sedition. He rebuilt a ...
Founded: 1515-1521 | Location: Francueil, France

Château de la Verrerie

The fine early Renaissance château is located on the edge of the Forêt d’Ivoy. The land was given to the Scot Sir John Stuart by Charles VII, in thanks for defeating the English at the battle of Baugé in 1421. However, the château was not built until the end of the 15th century, at which time Béraud Stuart, the grandson of John Stuart, returning from a campaign in Italy, constructed t ...
Founded: ca. 1500 | Location: Oizon, France

Château de Lavardin Ruins

The remains of the Château de Lavardin stand on a rocky promontory, above the village and the Loir. Built starting from the beginning of the 11th century by the first lords of Lavardin, the castle was sold to the count of Vendôme around 1130, becoming his principal fortress from the end of the 12th century. Completely altered in the 14th and 15th centuries, it was taken by the members of the Catholic League in ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Lavardin, France

Château de Rochecotte

Château de Rochecotte, a late 18th century château, is known for its various owners and their many successive rebuilds. Originally, the château belonged to the comte de Rochecotte, who became one of the leaders of the second Chouannerie in Maine and was executed under the French Directory. On 30 April 1828, one of the later owners, the chevalier René de La Selle de Ligné, sold it to Doroth ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Saint-Patrice, France

Château du Plessis-Bourré

Château du Plessis-Bourré is a château built in less than 5 years from 1468 to 1472 by Finance Minister Jean Bourré, the principal advisor to King Louis XI. The château has not been modified externally since its construction and still has a fully working drawbridge. It was classified as a Monument historique in 1931. The château was purchased in 1911 by Henry Vaïsse who, when he ...
Founded: 1468-1472 | Location: Soulaire-et-Bourg, France

Château de Montpoupon

The Château de Montpoupon is named after a Germanic tribe, the Poppo, who settled here on the rocky promontory at the time of Charlemagne. The site thus came to be known as Mons Poppo (the hill of the Poppos).With the passage of time this evolved into Montpoupon.  At the end of the Middle Ages, the château passed into the hands of the Lords de Prie et de Buzançais, a family who were to leave their ...
Founded: 1460 | Location: Céré-la-Ronde, France

Château de Montgeoffroy

The Château de Montgeoffroy is an 18th century manor house located in the commune of Mazé (Maine-et-Loire), France. In 1676, Érasme de Contades acquired the property. In 1772, the Marshal Louis Georges Érasme de Contades, governor of Alsace, decided to rebuild the château as a retirement home. He called on the Parisian architect Jean-Benoît-Vincent Barré, who worked with th ...
Founded: 1772 | Location: Mazé, France

Château Renault Ruins

Count of Blois Thibault IV built Château Renault in 1140. It consisted of a tower, surrounding walls and a moat on three sides. Today the tower and parts of walls remain as ruined.
Founded: 1140 | Location: Château-Renault, France

Château du Hallier

The building time of Château du Hallier is not known precisely. It is recorded in the 15th century in deeds of sale. The castle was sold to Charles de l'Hospital in 1537. In the 18th century, the castle was used as a quarry; the square second floor disappeared. In the 19th century, the castle became a farm. One of the towers housed a potter's kiln until the early 20th century. Today castle is privately owned. It h ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Nibelle, 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.