The Château de Saint-Just is a Renaissance castle with a one of the most the remarkable gardens of France. The first chateau was built in the 13th century, but only a few foundations remain. Near the end of the 16th century, Jacques de Croixmare built a new residence on the site. A record of the property in the fief of Saint-Just, written in 1608, mentions a manor, common buildings, an orangerie, a garden and a kitchen garden. It also included a chapel, two mills, vineyards, and an avenue planted with elm trees.
In 1654 the last descendants of the Croixmare family sold the house to Jean de Savary, the Secretary to the King of France and the Master of the Waters and Forests of Normandy. Jean de Savary and his descendants transformed the park into a French formal garden, adding water features and a kitchen garden. A plan from 1744 shows the chateau and park as they looked in the 18th century.
In 1775 the chateau was sold to the Duke de Penthièvre, who also owned the nearby château de Bizy. The Duke turned the old lodging into a rest home for his elderly servants. In the park he constructed a dairy and an icehouse, as well as a clinic. The rest home was occupied until the death of the Duke in 1793. The house was nationalized during the French Revolution, and then sold to Sébastien-Gilles Huet de Guerville. He built a tomb for his wife in the park, using architectural elements of the mausoleum of Lancelot de la Garenne (1595), coming from the church of the village of Mercey, Eure.
In 1798, the chateau was purchased by Victor Claude Alexandre Fanneau de Lahorie, one of Napoleon's generals, who later was implicated in a plot against Napoleon and shot in 1812. During the time he owned the house his mistress was Sophie Trébuchet, the mother of Victor Hugo, and according to some accounts Victor Hugo may have been conceived at the chateau.
In 1805 de Lahorie sold the chateau to Chevalier Suchet, who sold it to his brother, the Marshal and Duke d'Albufera. Louis Gabriel Suchet, who was one of Napoleon Bonaparte's most famous marshals, celebrated for his victories in Spain. In 1810 Suchet replaced the elm trees of the avenue from the 17th century with poplar trees. Beginning in 1816, he made major transformations on the house, done by the architect Lacornée. He redecorated and refurnished the house in the French Empire style, and had the park redesigned by the landscape architect Belguise. In 1825, part of the park was transformed into an English garden.
After the death of the Marshal in 1826, his widow divided the property and sold a part, including to the chapel, the Osmont paviilion, the clinic and part of the English garden to the owner of the neighboring chateau du Rocher.The chateau has belonged to the same family since 1885. In 1893, the avenue was replanted with plantane trees. In 1905, the pond was restored, and the water garden features repaired in 1935. The left wing of the house was torn down in 1904. A large section of the original park now belongs to an adjoining property.
The park is connected to the Seine River by an avenue more than a kilometer long lined by two rows of platane trees. The most striking feature of the park is the water garden, created in the 17th century. Three channels of water flow from springs downhill into a large pond, which reflects the facade of the chateau. The terraces of the park overlook the kitchen garden, also irritated by the spring water, and over the Seine. The 19th century section of the park has a remarkable assortment of old oak and bald cypress trees.References:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.