The Château de Challeau refers to two châteaux in the neighbouring communes of Dormelles and Villecerf.
The first Château de Challeau was a fortified building built in the 11th century to 12th century. It has a 6m high and 1.3m thick curtain wall which surrounds an area approximately 30m by 24m, with rounded watchtowers at the corners. Unusually, it did not have a central keep, and internal buildings seem to have been limited to temporary shelters. It was modified in the 15th century, during the Hundred Years War. After the French Revolution, it was confiscated and sold to Guillot de Blancheville. It was recovered by the descendents of its original owners in 1937, and restored.
The second Château was built near Fontainebleau in 1540s, for Anne de Pisseleu, duchesse d'Étampes, mistress of Francis I of France, to a design by Pierre Chambiges. Chambiges later created the first Château de la Muette to a similar design.
Anne de Pisseleu's niece, Marguerite Hurault, sold Dormelles and Challeau to Pierre Le Charron, a courtier of King Henry IV, in the 17th century, and it was altered to become the home of Gabrielle d'Estrées (for Voltaire composed his poem La Henriade). Louis XIII later permitted Claude Le Charron to commemorate his term as French ambassador at the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome by renaming the castle as the Château de Saint-Ange. The Château was destroyed in 1803, and a new building was later built in the grounds, also known as the Château de Saint-Ange.
The park around the ruins was given protected status in 1951.References:
Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.
The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.
In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.
Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.
Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.