Saturday, June 24, 2017

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry I

The Château of Villandry, in the Centre Val de Loire region, 
is the last of the great Renaissance châteaux to have been built on the banks of the Loire River. 

Although the estate is renowned for the harmony of its architecture, 
it is especially well-known for its gardens that spread across three terraces and combine aesthetics, diversity, and harmony.

The lands where an ancient fortress once stood 
were acquired in the early 16th century by Jean Le Breton, Minister of Finance under King François I.

When he arrived in Villandry in 1532, Jean Le Breton had the old feudal fortress razed to the ground, except for the keep, 
a dramatic testimony to the conference held on 4 July 1189 
at which Henry II Plantagenet of England admitted his defeat before King Philip Augustus of France, 
signing the treaty known as "La Paix de Colombiers" (The Peace of Colombiers) two days before he died.

In place of the fortress, he had three apparently simple main structures built adjoining the keep, 
to form a horseshoe opening onto the valley through which the Cher and the Loire flow. 

Arcades, mullioned windows surrounded by richly decorated pilasters, high lucarnes with sculpted curves and broad
steeply sloping slate roofs frame a main courtyard in proportions of rare elegance, 
all stamped with the architectural principle of the period: symmetry.
Villandry makes way for a simpler, purely French style. 

The château remained in the Le Breton family for more than two centuries until it was acquired by the Marquis de Castellane. 

During the French Revolution the property was confiscated and in the early 19th century, 
Emperor Napoleon acquired it for his brother Jérôme Bonaparte.

In 1906, Joachim Carvallo purchased the property and poured an enormous amount of time, money and devotion into repairing it 
and creating extremely beautiful gardens. 

Still owned by the Carvallo family, the Château de Villandry is open to the public and is one of the most visited châteaux in France.

In 1934, Château de Villandry was designated a historic monument
Like all the other châteaux of the Loire Valley, it is a World Heritage Site.

Villandry’s originality lies not only in its avant-garde architectural design; 
it is also to be found in the use made of the site on which it was built, 
in complete harmony with nature and stone, with gardens of outstanding beauty.

The sober elegance of its architecture combined with the charm of its outstanding gardens 
make this one of the jewels of world heritage.

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