The château de Rambouillet is the summer residence of the Presidents of the French Republic. The château was originally a fortified manor dating back to 1368 and, although amputated of one of its sides at the time of Napoleon I, it still retains its pentagonal bastioned footprint. King Francis I died there, on 31 March 1547, probably in the imposing medieval tower that bears his name. The château was owned by Charles d'Angennes, the marquis de Rambouillet during the reign of Louis XIII. Avenues led directly from the park of the castle into the adjacent game-rich forest. More than 200 square kilometres of forest remain, the remnant of the Forest of Rambouillet, also known as the Forest of Yveline.
In 1783, the château became the private property of king Louis XVI, who bought it from his cousin as an extension of his hunting grounds. Louis XVI commissioned the construction of the renowned Laiterie de la Reine, (the Queen's dairy), where the buckets were of Sèvres porcelain, painted and grained to imitate wood, and the presiding nymph was a marble Amalthea, with the goat that nurtured Jupiter, sculpted by Pierre Julien. A little salon was attached to the dairy itself, with chairs supplied by Georges Jacob in 1787 that had straight, tapering stop-fluted legs.
During the French Revolution the castle was emptied of its furnishings and the gardens and surrounding park falling into neglect. During the reign of Napoleon I, Rambouillet was included in his list of government-owned property at the disposal of the head of state. The emperor came several times to Rambouillet, the last being on the night of 29–30 June 1815, on his way to exile to Saint Helena. Among the reminders of Napoléon are the Pompeian style bathroom with its small bathtub and the exquisite balcony built to link the emperor's apartment to that of his second wife, the empress Marie-Louise. Another reminder of Napoléon was the splendid Allée de Cyprès chauves de Louisiane, a double-lined bald cypress avenue.
At the time of the Bourbon Restoration, Rambouillet was again included in the royal list. Fifteen years after Napoleon I, Charles X's road to exile also started at Rambouillet. On 2 August 1830, he signed his abdication here in favour of his nine-year old grandson, the Duke of Bordeaux.
After the fall of Napoleon III in 1870, which saw the beginning of the French Third Republic, the domain of Rambouillet was leased from 1870 to 1883 to the duc de la Trémoille. In February 1896, Rambouillet received a visit from President Félix Faure who then decided to spend his summers there with his family. Since, the château of Rambouillet has become the summer residence of France's Presidents of the Republic, who entertain, and used to invite to hunting parties many foreign dignitaries, princes and heads of state. As a part-time residence of the French president, it is sometimes referred to as the Palace of Rambouillet.
On 23 August 1944, prior to the liberation of Paris, General Charles de Gaulle arrived at Rambouillet and set up his headquarters in the castle where, in the evening, he met General Philippe Leclerc who, at the head of his French 2nd Armored Division, had mission to liberate Paris. On August 25 General de Gaulle left Rambouillet by car to enter Paris liberation.
In November 1975, the first "G6" summit was organized in the château by French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing for the heads of the world's leading industrialized countries. The château de Rambouillet continues to be used as a venue for bilateral summits and, in February 1999, was host to the negotiations on Kosovo.
On 26 December 1999, Hurricane Lothar hit the northern half of France, wreaking havoc to forests, parks and buildings. The Forest of Rambouillet lost hundreds of thousands of trees, and among the over five thousand downed trees in the park of Rambouillet, was the handsome, historical Allée de Cyprès chauves de Louisiane, the bald cypress avenue planted in 1810.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.