Château de Ferrières was built between 1855 and 1859 by Baron James de Rothschild. Rothschild ownership of the Château de Ferrières was passed down through the male line according to the rule of primogeniture. It is considered the largest and most luxurious 19th-century château in France.
The château was designed by the British architect Joseph Paxton. The inspiration for the design of Ferrières was Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, England, the house Paxton built for Baron James's cousin Mayer Amschel de Rothschild.
Built in the Neo-Renaissance style inspired by architecture of the Italian Renaissance, with square towers at each corner, the house sits on a formal terrace that gives way to 1.25 km² of gardens in a parkland that was part of a surrounding 30 km² forest contained in the estate. The showpiece central hall is 37 m long and 18 m high, its roof a full glass skylight. The sculpting of the interior atlas columns and caryatids was by Charles Henri Joseph Cordier and the decorative painting supervised by Eugène Lami. The massive library held more than 8,000 volumes. Because lavish entertaining was important, in addition to the private Rothschild apartments, the Château de Ferrières was built with eighty guest suites. Ferrières was inaugurated 16 December 1862 with a gala attended by Napoleon III.
Baron James acquired a vast collection of works of art, and statues adorned a number of the château's rooms. Several of the many sculptures were by Alexandre Falguière and the 18th-century Italian, Antonio Corradini and the Baron's son later added works by René de Saint-Marceaux.
During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Château de Ferrières was seized by the Germans and was the site of negotiations between Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the North German Confederation, and the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jules Favre. The Germans again seized the château during the occupation of France in World War II and this time, looted its vast art collections.
The château remained empty until 1959 when Guy de Rothschild and his new wife, Marie-Hélène de Zuylen van Nyeve set about refurbishing it.
From 1959, they hosted regular parties at the Château, the theme of which would be personally designed by artists or designers such as Yves Saint Laurent. Their parties would mainly consist of aristocracy, but they always included many of her friends from a wider society such as Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.
In 1975, Guy de Rothschild and his wife donated the château to the chancellery of the University of Paris, and it is now open to the public for guided tours and special events.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.