Visit Chateau d'Amboise in the Loire Valley

Photo of Chateau d'Amboise

Chateau d'Amboise visitor guide and history

The fortune of the Amboise Castle started when Louis XI began to think that Amboise was much easier to defend than Plessis, where the king traditionally had a residence. As a result the work began at Amboise in 1463, no expense spared, especially after that the supervisor of the work, Pierre Artault, had complained to Louis XI of the fact that the funds were insufficient for the expectations of the King of France.

As a result he urged his minister Jean Bourré (1424-1506) to allocate whatever funds were necessary to take the work forward very quickly.

The ancient castrum therefore was demolished and its stones used for the foundations of the new ‘maison’, as they said. In 1465 the construction work proceeded briskly. As at Langeais, round towers were built, with particular reference to the two towers to the north and south which reached 18 metres high and 8 metres in diameter. The sovereign, a deeply religious man, also built a chapel dedicated to St. Blaise. At the time of Louis’ death (1483), the work was continued with equal dedication by Charles VIII, who had spent his childhood at the castle of Amboise.

The work went quickly on the castle after the marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany. The best artists of the time were called to the castle, and fabulous sums of money were spent on carpets, Flemish tapestries, gold plate and silver, and inlaid furniture of ‘flamboyant’ style.

The final structure of the castle is certainly powerful, and it gives the impression of being impregnable. Built on a broad terrace, which underpins the massive walls, the castle has two round towers that flank the royal palace. The castle complex includes the Hall of States, the Guard Room and the chapel of Saint-Hubert, where, they say, lie the remains of Leonardo Da Vinci (born in 1452) - who died in 1519 while he was a guest of Francis I (1494-1547).

With the successors of Charles VIII the castle had no special care and in the seventeenth century it passed to Gaston d'Orléans (1608-1660). From the end of that century it returned to the French Crown; in the meantime, however, it had suffered very serious damages and neglect.

During the French Revolution the castle was used as barracks and a button factory, and it suffered further significant damage during the Napoleonic age. In the early nineteenth century it was owned by Louis Philippe (1773-1850), who did some attempt of restoration.

After World War II many works of restoration were put into practice, and these were later continued by the ‘Fondation Saint-Louis.’

Map of Chateau d'Amboise & places nearby

Castle Town village

Selected places to visit in or near Chateau d'Amboise, Loire Valley