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© Dimitar Denev
© Vincent Maurin
© Michel Cornu
© Wil Linssen
The magnificent Château d'Amboise overlooks the Loire valley in Amboise, at the heart of the Touraine region. The castle, representative of French Renaissance and the home of several successive Kings of France, is part of the group of castles in the Loire valley.
Impressive and refined, the Château d’Amboise is situated on a ridge overhanging the valley. Besides being a royal residence, it is also known for its Saint Hubert chapel, a masterpiece of extravagant gothic architecture, which houses the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci, and also for its gardens.
Decorative stonework and a spectacular view of the valley
The château is a lesson in architecture and a journey through the centuries, with its fortifications, impressive towers (the Minimes tower and the Heurtault tower), lintels, gothic and Renaissance style windows and its constructions dating back to between the Middles Ages and the Renaissance. Overlooking the valley, its residences, balconies and gardens, create an atmosphere of grandeur and encourage contemplation and relaxation.
The Grandeur of a Royal Castle
Before it was associated with the crown in 1434, the castle belonged to the House of Amboise for over four centuries. During the Renaissance, it served as the residence of several Kings of France. The son of Louis XI, Charles VIII, who was raised in the region, appreciated the relaxed way of life in Touraine and made it his preferred home. With a passion for Italian culture, he invited many Italian artists to Amboise, who completely transformed the castle into the style of the Renaissance. He also called on an Italian horticulturist to improve the gardens. Other features were created by French artists.
The Memory of Leonardo da Vinci in the Clos Lucé
Several successive Kings would extend the castle, which became a centre of power and intellectual and worldly living. Its renowned library was even the breeding place for the Bibliothèque nationale (the National Library). Louis XII invited Leonardo da Vinci to stay in the Château du Clos Lucé (the Castle of Clos Lucé), close to the royal residence. An historical centre, Amboise notably provided a backdrop for the Conspiracy of Amboise, which was a prelude to the religious wars.
It was largely destroyed under the First Empire.
Amboise, a pleasurable location in the Loire valley
Exploring Amboise is very enjoyable, a “ville aux mille merveilles” (place of a thousand marvels), particularly troglodyte houses. In the Middle Ages, quarries were dug, by extracting the stone, and turned into settlements. They are very characteristic of the Loire valley.
In 2000, the Loire valley was listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site under the title of “Cutural Landscape”. The surrounding villages equally possess many hidden treasures.