The Domaine of Villarceaux is a French château, water garden and park located in the commune of Chaussy. The gardens are located on the site of a medieval castle from the 11th century, built to protect France from the British, who at that time occupied Normandy, the neighboring province. Many vestiges of the medieval fortifications remain in the park. A manor house and French water garden was built there in the 17th century. In the 18th century a château in the style of Louis XV was built on a rocky hill overlooking the water garden.
One famous resident in the 17th century was Ninon de Lenclos, the author, courtesan, and patron of the arts. Another was Françoise d'Aubigné, the future Madame de Maintenon and future wife of King Louis XIV, who lived there after the death of her first husband, the poet Paul Scarron, at the invitation of her friends the Montchevreuil, cousins of the Marquis of Villarceaux. The Marquis fell in love with her, and commissioned a full-length portrait of her, nude, which greatly embarrassed her. The portrait can be seen today in the dining room of the house. The house also contains a collection of 18th-century furniture.
The domaine is part of the regional park of Vexin, and is used for concerts and cultural events. The gardens are classified among the Notable Gardens of France.
The gardens contain a rare 18th-century ornamental feature called a vertugadin, modelled after the hoop skirts of the 18th century, surrounded by statues brought from Italy.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.