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 demolished in the 10th century. A second building was besieged and destroyed by King Philip II Augustus of France (1188), then at war with Henry II Plantagenet, king of England.
The present castle dates from 12th century until 15th century, with additions from the Renaissance. It has belonged, among the others, to Admiral Louis de Culant (1360 – 1444), to Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully (1599 – 1621), and later the Prince de Condé. In 1651, during the Fronde, Mazarin laid siege to the town with royal troops and destroyed the 15th century ramparts. During the Revolution, the castle lands were shared among several families and the fortress was sold as national property. The castle received several famous visitors: Joan of Arc, Louis XI, Sully, Madame de Sévigné, the novelist George Sand and Ernest Renan. General Charles de Gaulle, visiting Saint-Amand-Montrond after the war, preferred to sleep in a private house in the Rue de l'Église.
The château de Culan is in excellent condition. It was restored between 1950 and 1980 by an earlier owner, Jean Ferragut, who organised exhibitions there (Pablo Picasso, Bernard Buffet, Flemish tapestries, etc.) It is one of the few castles to still have wooden turrets which allowed stones and other projectiles to be thrown down onto attackers. The castle has beautiful monumental fireplaces from the 15th century. Around the castle, at the end of the 20th century, 'medieval gardens' were laid out.
The present owners, Jean Pierre Marquis and Edouard Marquis (father and son), are continuing the work of restoration and preservation.
The castle is open to visitors every day from Easter to the end of October. Medieval weekends are organised in July and August as well as torchlight tours on some summer evenings.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.