Château de Chambord

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The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture that blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Italian structures.[nb 1]

The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King François I in part to be near to his mistress the Comtesse de Thoury, Claude Rohan, wife of Julien de Clermont, a member of a very important family of France, whose domaine, the château de Muides, was adjacent.[nb 2] Her arms figure in the carved decor of the château.

Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for François I, who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and Château d'Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with several doubts, to Domenico da Cortona. Some authors claim that the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme had a considerable role in the château's design,[2] and others have suggested that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed it.

Chambord was altered considerably during the twenty years of its construction, (1519–1547), during which it was overseen on-site by Pierre Nepveu. With the château nearing completion, François showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old archnemesis, Emperor Charles V at Chambord.

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Architecture

Châteaux in the 16th-century departed from castle architecture;[nb 3] while they were off-shoots of castles, with features commonly associated with them, they did not have serious defences. Extensive gardens and water features, such as a moat, were common amongst châteaux from this period. Chambord is no exception to this pattern. The layout is reminiscent of a typical castle with a keep, corner towers, and defended by a moat.[5] Built in Renaissance style, the internal layout is an early example of the French and Italian style of grouping rooms into self-contained suites, a departure from the medieval style of corridor rooms.[6] The massive château is composed of a central keep with four immense bastion towers at the corners. The keep also forms part of the front wall of a larger compound with two more large towers. Bases for a possible further two towers are found at the rear, but these were never developed, and remain the same height as the wall. The château features 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Four rectangular vaulted hallways on each floor form a cross-shape.

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