The Château de Maintenon is best known as being the private residence of the second spouse of Louis XIV, Madame de Maintenon. The construction of the castle began in the 12th and ended roughly in the 18th century. In the early 16th century it was purchased by Louis XII's treasurer Jean Cottereau, who transformed the castle into a country house. In the 17th century it was rebuilt for Madame de Maintenon, who purchased the estate in 1675.
The château's main features are the keep, constructed in the 13th century, and the principal corps de logis, flanked by two round towers. The east and west wings frame a cour d'honneur, beyond which is the moat filled by the waters of the Eure, and, beyond, the parterre and park. The picturesque massing of the varied towers and roofs pleased François-René de Chateaubriand who found its special character was like that of an abbey or an old town, "with its spires and steeples, grouped at hap-hazard".
At the far end of the gardens is the aqueduct known as the canal de Louis XIV, ordered by Louis XIV. Its colossal scale impressed Chateaubriand, who said that it was "a work worthy of the Caesars". It was constructed by the Marquis de Vauban between 1685 and 1690 in order to transport water from the Eure River to the gardens and fountains at the Château de Versailles. In the 18th century there was an orangerie constructed as well as stables.
The interior has been restored and furniture and decoration can be seen in several salons, a library and a billiard room. There is also a portrait gallery showing painting of the House of Noailles, who inherited the property at the death of Madame de Maintenon in 1718.
The main garden was designed by the famous André Le Nôtre who also worked at Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Marly. The parterre has two interlacing "L"'s, in honour of Louis XIV. Two allées, given modern names in honour of Le Nôtre and Racine, border the Eure river.
At the far end, cutting through the gardens, is the aqueduct built from 1685 to supply the fountains of the park of the Palace of Versailles. The project meant that water was diverted from the Eure river some 80 km away. The arches of the structure reach a height of 60 feet. Vauban was in charge of the works.
The aqueduct had to have 47 arcades to the first row, 195 arcades to the second and 390 to the third one. The wars of Louis XIV prevented the work's completion.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.