Hermann Castle (also Hermannsburg, Herman Castle, Narva Castle, or Narva fortress) was founded in 1256 by the Danes and the first stone castle was built in the beginning of the 14th century. The German Livonian Teutonic knights order purchased the castle on 29 August 1346 and for most of its history the castle was German Teutonic.
Although the exact age of Narva Castle and the town cause still arguments between historians, they agree on the sequence of events. Firstly, in about the 13th century, the Danes, who had conquered Northern Estonia, built a wooden border stronghold at the crossing of the Narova River and the old road. Under the protection of the stronghold, the earlier settlement developed into the town of Narva, which obtained the Lubeck town rights in the first half of the 14th century.
Following several conflicts with the Russians, the Danes started building a stone stronghold at the beginning of the 14th century. It was a small castellum-like building with 40-metre sides and a tower, a predecessor of the today's Herman Tower, at its north-western corner. At the beginning of the 14th century, a small forecourt was established at the north side of the stronghold and, in the middle of the century, a large forecourt was added to the west side, where citizens were allowed to hide in case of wars as the town of Narva was not surrounded by a wall during the Danish rule.
In 1347 the Danish king sold Northern Estonia, including Narva, to the Livonian Order, who rebuilt the building into a convent building according to their needs. The stronghold has for the most part preserved the ground plan with its massive wings and a courtyard in the middle. The Herman Tower was also completed at the time of the Order, necessitated by the establishment of Ivangorod Castle by the Russians to the opposite side of the Narva River in 1492. The Order surrounded the town with a wall, which unfortunately has not been preserved (in 1777 there came an order to pull it down).
The Narva Castle is one of the main attractions of the city. The Narva Castle is the most diverse and best preserved defence structure in Estonia. The area of the castle is 3.2 hectares, and the highest point is the Tall Hermann Tower (51 metres). Today you can visit the museum in the castle, were the displays explain the history of Narva and the castle. There are handicraft workshops in the northern courtyard, where you can try your hand at various techniques and handicrafts.
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.