Weikersheim Palace (Schloss Weikersheim) was built in the 12th century, however the exact year is not known. The palace was the traditional seat of the princely family of Hohenlohe. In the 16th century, Count Wolfgang II inherited Weikersheim after a division of estates and made it his main home. He converted the moated castle into a magnificent Renaissance palace, whose splendid rooms have been preserved with their furnishings. Aside from the large chandelier and the Lambris painting added in the 18th century, the banqueting hall remains in its original state. Princess Elisabeth Friederike Sophie's audience room was known as the 'beautiful room' because of its exquisite furnishings.
The baroque interior and palace garden date from 1710. The garden in particular with its axial arrangement and many statues exemplifies the baroque style. A permanent exhibition on the theme of alchemy is on display in the former palace kitchen, enabling visitors to discover more about Count Wolfgang II von Hohenlohe and his alchemy laboratory. The double-winged, arcaded orangery from 1723 has a total length of just under 100 metres and marks the point where the palace garden takes over from the untamed surrounding nature. An elaborate series of sculpted figures adorns the garden at Weikersheim Palace. This 'garden kingdom' includes the four seasons, the four elements and the four winds, the gods of the planets around the Hercules fountain, a number of other classical gods and a 'court' of dwarfs.
The palace has been owned by the state of Baden-Württemberg since 1967 when the palace was bought from the estate of Prince Constantin von Hohenlohe, who had encouraged arts-related activities at the palace. Today the palace is home to the Jeunesses Musicales Germany during the summer and the Weikersheim Think Tank. It is also used for large gatherings and weddings.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.