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 would remain in the family's hands. Marie Gaudin's granddaughter, Gabrielle d'Estrées, was born in the château and would herself grow up to become mistress to another king, Henry IV of France.
In 1775, the château was partially destroyed by order of King Louis XV's most powerful Minister, Étienne François, Duc de Choiseul. Étienne François wanted to use the stones from Château de la Bourdaisière for the construction of his Pagoda at his estate in Chanteloup, near Amboise.
Lying in ruins, in 1786 the land was sold to Louise Adélaïde of Penthièvre Bourbon. In 1802 the property was acquired by Baron Joseph Angelier who undertook a massive reconstruction of Château Bourdaisière. The interior work would be completed by his son, Gustave Angelier. Although a small château, when compared to the great châteaux of the Kings and some of those built by other wealthy nobles, it is a magnificent Renaissance construction fronted by traditional French gardens.
During World War II, the château was occupied by the Nazis. After the war, a lack of funds by its owner saw it become severely run down. In 1959, its contents were auctioned off and government turned the château into a home for the elderly.
In 2003, Château de la Bourdaisière gained considerable attention in North America, as the primary site for the television show Joe Millionaire. In 2011, the chateaus gardens were finalist for the European Garden Award bestowed by the European Garden Heritage Network. The château was listed as a monument historique in 1947. Today it functions as a hotel.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.