The Château de Compiègne is a royal residence built for Louis XV and restored by Napoleon. Compiègne was one of three seats of royal government, the others being Versailles and Fontainebleau. It is located in Compiègne in the Oise department and is open to the public.
Even before the chateau was constructed, Compiègne was the preferred summer residence for French monarchs, primarily for hunting given its proximity to Compiègne Forest. The first royal residence was built in 1374 for Charles V, and a long procession of successors both visited it and modified it. Louis XIV resided in Compiègne some 75 times.
In 1750, prominent architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel proposed a thorough renovation of the chateau. Work began in 1751 and was finished in 1788 by Gabriel's student Le Dreux de La Châtre. The ancient town ramparts dictated the château's triangular plan; the resultant building covers about 5 acres. It is Neoclassical in style, with simplicity and clarity governing both its external and interior features.
During the French Revolution, the château passed into the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Interior. In 1795 all furniture was sold and its works of art were sent to the Muséum Central; it was essentially gutted. Napoleon visited in 1799 and again in 1803. In 1804 the château became an imperial domain and in 1807 he ordered it be made habitable again. Architects Berthault, Percier and Fontaine, decorators Dubois and Redouté, and cabinetmakers Jacob-Desmalter and Marcion restored the château. Its layout was altered, a ballroom added, and the garden was replanted and linked directly to the forest.
The result is an example of First French Empire style (1808-1810), though some traces of the earlier décor survive. From 1856 on, Napoleon III and Eugénie made it their autumn residence, and redecorated some rooms in the Second Empire style.
Today's visitors can find three distinct museums within the chateau: the apartments themselves, the Museum of the Second Empire and the National Car Museum, founded in 1927, with a collection of carriages, bicycles, and automobiles.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.