Located in France, the Chateau de Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley. This building is one of the most recognized estates in the world because of its French Renaissance architecture. With over 400 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and more than 70 staircases this massive estate is remarkable. King Francois I commissioned the construction to Francois Dombriant to begin building on 6 September 1519. It was to be built as a hunting lodge for King Francois I. The construction of the building lasted many years; it was altered several times and never finished. It is said that Domenico da Cortona was the architect of Chateau de Chambord, but there are many controversies surrounding who the architect really was. Some believe that Leonardo da Vinci may have been the designer because of the double helix staircase that is the centerpiece of the building and the extraordinary architecture found throughout. Chambord was once abandoned for a great deal of time, but it has been renovated and is now open to the public.
The construction of the Chateau de Chambord was greatly influenced by the rise of humanism. The estate was built with Renaissance elegance; the center layout was as an early example of the French and Italian style of grouping rooms into self-contained suites. As humanism extended into the Northern Renaissance many of the construction methods of estates changed, taking on styles with symmetry, geometry, and orderly arrangements. The castles became lighter, more delicate, and were built with more windows. Chambord had many open windows, a loggia, and a vast outdoor area at the top which before had only been seen in Italy; these things were not very practical for cold and damp Northern France. The layout of the estate was very geometric, with a central body that had square lines in the shape of a Greek cross. With shelf motifs and inlaid marble panels that were mostly seen in Italy, Chambord was classic humanism at its best. Castle enthusiast Jean-Baptiste Lully understands the beauty of the estate, he wrote that the Chateau de Chambord “appears suddenly at the edge of a path and the sight of its white massive structure that widens and takes shape little by little, produces a dramatic impression, which is even more striking at sunset”, in The Castel of Chambord.
The longing for something new and fresh like humanism during the Renaissance is something that I greatly admire from the artists and designers of that time. It is amazing to me that many of these estates were only used as hunting lodges or to entertain a few weeks out of the year; the royalty truly lived a different lifestyle enveloped with luxury. I have always been into architecture and seeing these beautiful castles has really made me want to go see them. I think they are an incredible part of the Renaissance history and it makes me happy to know that, still today, anyone is able to enjoy seeing these incredible works.
Château de Chambord. Spotting History, 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. http://thefabweb.com/86381/24-best-architecture-pictures-of-the-month-march-16th-to-april-14th-2013/
Chateau de Chambord. Wikipedia, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chambord
Lully, Jean-Baptiste. The Castel of Chambord. 37-Online, 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. http://www.37-online.net/gb/castles/chambord_gb.php
Renaissance architecture. Wikipedia, 7 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_architecture
Sullivan, Mary Ann. Château de Chambord. N.p., 2009. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/france/loire/chambord/chambord1.html