Visit Château de Chambord, France
An extravagant celebration of French Renaissance architecture, the Château de Chambord is the most ambitious of the Loire Valley palaces. It was intended as an almighty symbol of power, wealth and superiority, commissioned by French king François I as a hunting lodge but aimed at surpassing anything that his greatest rival, Emperor Charles V, could come up with.
Chambord is also an outrageous example of the extraordinary fortunes controlled by the French nobility. It very publicly fulfilled the king's desire to assert himself as the supreme leader of his era. In reality, though, he admitted that the chateau was almost uninhabitable and he spent a mere 42 days there during his entire reign.
France specialist Liz
Ostentatious, overwrought, extravagant — Château de Chambord inspires superlatives. I love the way that its Disney-esque silhouette bristles with turrets, cupolas, chimneys and domes. Inside, the grand double-helix staircase is reputed to have been designed by da Vinci.
Things to see and do in Château de Chambord
The Italian architect Domenico da Cortona was commissioned by François I in 1519 to design a chateau that would reflect the finest Renaissance art forms and surpass all others in the process. His design, with its harmonious style and symmetrical grace, is now regarded as the quintessential Loire Valley chateau and one of the greatest achievements of its time.
With more than 440 rooms, 85 staircases and 365 chimneys, it’s a gargantuan structure. Impossible to heat and too grand to feel homely, consecutive owners made attempts to make the palace more habitable, lowering ceilings in places, adding wooden panelling to dampen sounds and provide insulation, and creating smaller fireplaces within the massive originals.
Inside the chateau
You can see alterations made by Louis XIV and his son, the Comte de Chambord, in their apartments on the first floor. There are numerous other rooms on show, hung with tapestries and enormous oil paintings and still containing their original furniture. Perhaps the most spellbinding of all, though, is the Great Staircase, which sits at the heart of the donjon, the chateau keep.
The donjon is laid out in the form of a Greek cross with four main rooms. This layout was previously unheard of outside religious buildings and was intended as a symbol of the sacred status of the king. Between the rooms is the ornate staircase, possibly designed by Leonardo da Vinci, its double helix spirals winding organically and separately up to the Great Lantern Tower, which provides a bird's-eye view of the roof with its forest of chimneys, cupolas and turrets.
Map of Château de Chambord
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Château de Chambord
- Château de Cheverny 14 kilometers away
- Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire 30 kilometers away
- The Loire Valley 39 kilometers away
- Amboise 46 kilometers away
- Château de Chenonceau 47 kilometers away
- Château de Villandry 82 kilometers away
- Château d'Azay-le-Rideau 89 kilometers away
- Chinon 109 kilometers away
- Paris 152 kilometers away
- Normandy 173 kilometers away
- Rouen 206 kilometers away
- Honfleur 223 kilometers away
- Bayeux 247 kilometers away
- Mont Saint-Michel 253 kilometers away
- Reims 261 kilometers away
- Dordogne 283 kilometers away
- Sarlat-la-Canéda 305 kilometers away
- Beynac-et-Cazenac 311 kilometers away
- La Roque-Gageac 312 kilometers away
- Castelnaud-la-Chapelle 314 kilometers away
- Lyon 327 kilometers away
- Saint-Émilion 330 kilometers away
- Bordeaux 349 kilometers away
- Annecy 399 kilometers away
- Rhône-Alpes 407 kilometers away
- Talloires 410 kilometers away
- Chamonix 454 kilometers away
- Uzès 460 kilometers away
- Orange 464 kilometers away
- Pont-du-Gard 471 kilometers away
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region 472 kilometers away
- Avignon 481 kilometers away