Chateau de Chambord: Humanism in Architecture



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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.


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          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.


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Château de Chambord. Spotting History, 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Chateau de Chambord. Wikipedia, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Lully, Jean-Baptiste. The Castel of Chambord. 37-Online, 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Renaissance architecture. Wikipedia, 7 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014

Sullivan, Mary Ann. Château de Chambord. N.p., 2009. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.


9 thoughts on “Chateau de Chambord: Humanism in Architecture

  1. I would have never thought to breakdown an entire piece of architecture like that, and you did a magnificent job. The connection to humanism through the architecture is spot on! This castle is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen as of yet!

  2. This castle is aw inspiring. I had been sharing with my husband the castles in our lessons. I especially am impressed with the castles in France. I would love to be able to visit some of these locations and just absorb it all in. Your description of the castle is remarkable and the connection to humanism well described. This castle is just so impressive. The spiral stair case so beautiful. I really like the detail of the pillar in the middle of the stair case. Thank you for sharing this magnificent work of art with us. Here is a link to the Chateau de Chambord web site. You are able to tour this castle. There are some exquisite pictures of some of the rooms and art in the castle on the web site. You should check it out

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. I love architecture and was very impressed with Chambord; it didn’t take me long to choose which castle I was going to write about. Thank you for your link to more info on Chambord.

  3. I enjoyed this post very much. The castle is a truly impressive piece of architecture and is very beautiful. I enjoy the way you break down the construction of the castle, especially the section where you link the influences of Humanism to the construction of the castle. It is amazing how Humanism affected so many things from art to philosophy to education. I also think it is amazing how this beautiful of a building could be considered a hunting lodge or that it could be abandoned for any length of time. If you had to pick a favorite feature of this castle what would it be? What are some of your other favorite castles? Finally have you heard about any of the Canadian castle; if you have what do you think of them?

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. I agree with you in thinking that it’s amazing this castle was only used as a hunting lodge. I read that it was only used a couple weeks out of the year. I would have to say my favorite feature of the castle is the staircase or maybe just all the intricate detail that was put into each and every piece of the castle. I am very impressed of how beautiful the castle is no matter where you look. I actually don’t know of many castles; I did get the chance to visit one in Germany and that was really fun. I had never heard of the Canadian castles; which is a shame because I have driven through Canada twice. They are pretty awesome; if I am in Canada again I will have to check them out.

  4. Wow, what a beautiful castle. It is truly awe inspiring to see such a piece of beauty. To tell you the truth I find it kind of ridiculous for a place like this to be built to be used during such a short time of the year. If I had a place like this I would never want to leave it. I love that the architecture is so intricate. The stairs are so beautiful to look at. The fact that there are places like this out there. I love the humanist influences in places like this. It makes it so much more beautiful.

  5. I like the idea that the Castle Chateau de Chambord may have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci. I think he had a great deal of influence in the humanistic movement. I think the roundness of the architecture was classical of the Renaissance. I enjoyed your post, especially your attention to detail.

  6. I really enjoyed reading your post and looking at the photos you included. My husband and I traveled in Germany and were able to tour a few castles there. I imagine living in one would be cold being surrounded by stone walls. Appreciated your attention to detail.

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