Chambord is pronounced shahm-bore, and it’s probably the most prestigious château in the Loire Valley. It’s certainly the largest, boasting 440 rooms, 365 windows, 282 fireplaces, 83 staircases, as well as the many turrets and dormer windows.
Chambord was seldom inhabited, and that’s probably because it’s simply not very habitable. There is a pretence at protection, but it is certainly not a château-fort (a fortress). François I began its construction to be used as a hunting lodge, but only stayed there a few weeks.
François II continued the construction, but it was not completed until Louis XIV. That’s why it’s sort of half-gothic, half-rennaissance.
You will never guess who the initial architect was. At least I would never have guessed. (It’s in dispute. Everyone agrees he had influence over the plans, but others state him as the official architect). Okay, okay, I’ll put you out of your suspense.
It’s Leonardo da Vinci! Did you even know he was an architect among the other things? I did not. But he was buddies with François I.
It’s a dubious honour, however – although perhaps not his fault, considering he only began the construction but did not complete it. Chambord is considered by architects to be somewhat of a travesty. The balance of the rooms is not pleasing, and the windows are not symmetrical.
And there are so many turrets and spires, author Henry James said of it “the towers, cupolas, the gables, the lanterns, the chimneys, look more like the spires of a city than the salient points of a single building.”
So I thought the best way to tackle this behemoth of a building is to show you pictures. But please don’t expect any order to them. I will show you edifices and windows and floors and details and landscapes in such a hodgepodge that you will be as thoroughly turned about as I was when visiting it. So without further ado, here are:
The spires, turrets and steeples
I have to say, though, that whether he was the architect of Chambord, all the historians agree that da Vinci designed these incredible spiral staircases, in which you can go up and down the different sides at the same time without ever meeting.
You had forgotten that there was one last château to look at, didn’t you? But this brings us to six. (Or seven, if you count Tours).
And I hope you enjoyed the whole tour. Groan.
(I got my information here and two other sites whose links don’t work so I removed them).