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Chambord Castle Travel Guide
Chambord Castle, Centre (© Jose Ignacio Soto -
Chambord Castle.


Jewel of the French Renaissance, Chambord is the most imposing château of the Loire Valley and one of the largest and most recognisable in Europe - despite the fact that it was never completed. It was built by King Francis I (1494-1547) who, only aged 25, undertook to show the world the power of the new French monarchy.

With the construction of Chambord, Francis satiated both of his passions for architecture and hunting. The location was chosen in part so that the king could be close to his mistress, Claude Rohan, Comtesse de Thoury, and wife of Julien de Clermont, whose domain of Muides Castle was adjacent.

Chambord is located in the marshy and forested Sologne region, in a curve of the little Cosson River, 6 km south of the Loire. The domain boasts the largest enclosed park in Europe (50 km²).



There had been a medieval castle in Chambord since the 10th century, originally belonging to the Counts of Blois. The castle passed to the Dukes of Orléans in 1397, then to the Kings of France when Louis of Orléans ascends the throne as Louis XII in 1498.

In 1515, Francis I returns from Italy with Leonardo da Vinci, hankering to create a great residence for himself in the style of the Italian Renaissance. The site of Chambord was picked in 1519, and the old castle razed to make way for the king's new "Wonder of the World".

The new castle would serve both as a hunting lodge and a place to showed off Francis' enormous wealth and power to his great rival, Emperor Charles V. The construction last from 1519 to 1547, and was interrupted during the Italian War of 1521–1526. During that time, the king maintained his royal residences at the nearby castles of Blois and Amboise.

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