Egeskov Castle is Europe"s best preserved Renaissance water castle with a history dating to the 14th century. The castle structure was erected by Frands Brockenhuus in 1554. Due to the troubles caused by the civil war known as the Count"s Feud, general civil unrest, and a civil war introducing the Protestant Reformation, most Danish noblemen built their homes as fortifications. The castle is constructed on oaken piles and located in a small lake with a maximum depth of 5 metres. Originally, the only access was by means of a drawbridge. According to legend, it took an entire forest of oak trees to build the foundation, hence the name Egeskov (“oak forest”).
The castle consists of two long buildings connected by a thick double wall, allowing defenders to abandon one house and continue fighting from the other. The double wall is over one meter thick and contains secret staircases and a well. Defenders were able to attack an enemy"s flanks from the two round corner towers. Other medieval defences include artillery ports, scalding holes and arrow slits. The bricks composing the castle are of an oversized medieval type sometimes called 'monks bricks'. The conical towers are constructed in a series of separate panels.
The architecture includes depressed and round-arched windows, round-arched blank arcading within the gables, and a double string course between the high cellar and the ground floor. The structure contains some of the early indoor plumbing design first used in Europe with vertical shafts for waste. The thick double wall also contains a water well which is accessed from the servants kitchen in the east house. Several of the large rooms have massive parallel exposed beams with some end carving.
Contents of the castle include a massive iron chest from at least as early as the 16th century, which derived from Hvedholm Castle, a property earlier owned by the Egeskov estate about ten kilometers to the west.
Numerous oil paintings are found within the castle including a large painting in the great hall on the first floor of Niels Juel, who defeated the Swedish force in the Battle of Køge Bay in the year 1677.
Other buildings belonging to Egeskov include Ladegården, a thatched half-timbered building which is now part of the museum. Other buildings are used by the museum and for farming. Surrounding the castle is an old park, covering 20 hectares of land. The park is divided into a number of gardens. The renaissance garden features fountains, a gravel path and topiary figures. The fuchsia garden, one of the largest in Europe, contains 104 different species. Other gardens near the castle include an English garden, a water garden, an herb garden, a vegetable garden, and a peasant"s garden (bondehave). The gardens also feature four hedge mazes. The oldest is a beech maze several hundreds of years old. This garden is trimmed every year to prevent the trees from dying. The newest maze is the world"s largest bamboo maze. It features a Chinese tower in the centre, and a bridge from the tower provides the exit from the maze. The parks feature a three-meter-tall sundial designed by Danish poet and mathematician, Piet Hein.
The estate includes an additional eight square kilometres; 2.5 square kilometres is forest, with the rest being farmland. The estate has belonged to the Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille family since 1784. In 1986, a full-sized replica of the castle was built in Hokkaidō, Japan, to hold anaquarium. This was constructed with the permission of the Egeskov"s owners at the time, Count Claus and Countess Louisa Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille.
Egeskov is today a home to the several museums, like vintage automobile, motorcycle and flying vehicles collection. Most of the castle is open to the public, except for the areas used by Count Michael and Countess Caroline Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille. The museum of agriculture and the horse wagon collection is located in the building Ladegård mentioned previously.References:
The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.
Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.
Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.
The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.