Sunday, January 8, 2017

France, Loire Valley - Château de Blois I (The Louis XII Gothic Wing)

The Royal Château de Blois is located in the town of Blois, in the Loir-et-Cher département of the Loire Valley, in France.

Unlike most of the Loire Valley castles, that present a single identifiable style, 
the Blois Castle comprises various buildings that were built over the course of several centuries (from the 13th to the 17th century), 
and thus different architectural styles can be found here. 
This variety is best seen in the central courtyard.

The lords of Blois and the kings of France continually modified the chateau according to their taste. 
At present, the courtyard is surrounded by buildings that attest to the four great epochs of French architecture 
from the Middle Ages till the 17th century.

The 13th-century Medieval fortress
In the 9th century, the headland overlooking the town of Blois and the Loire river was occupied by a fortress and a county palace. 
Shortly thereafter, the monks of Saint-Calais founded a chapel to protect their relics from Viking pillaging. 
Starting in 1000, the counts of Blois erected a tower and some new structures, which were regularly enlarged. 
Today's Royal Chateau of Blois contains only a few remnants of the 13th-century buildings: 
the large seigneurial room, part of the rampart and 3 towers incorporated in the François I wing, as well as the circular Foix Tower.

The Louis XII Gothic wing (1498-1500)
Starting in 1498, Louis XII transformed the fortress into an urban palace. 
On the courtyard side, the Gothic building features an open arcade leading to the two stairway towers providing access to all floors. 
At the front, the long brick facade harbors an equestrian statue of the king. 
While the edifice remains faithful to the standards of French architecture, 
the candelabra-laced decors and the arcades display an early Italian artistic influence. 
In our time, the Louis XII wing is home to the Fine Arts Museum.

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