Château d’Angers!!!

Well well, here I am telling you a dandy. Looking over my old posts so they can be rejuvenated,updated revised etc and pictures better arranged or guide you to other posts I found me a dandy untold! Yes my dear readers, several posts on Angers, and brief lines of the castle but no post on it and darn it ,it deserves one indeed. Therefore, here is a new post on the Château d’Angers castle with old pictures.

The castle of Angers, also called the castle of the Dukes of Anjou is located in the town of Angers in the department of Maine-et-Loire no 49 region of Pays de la Loire. Angers is located on three road axis ; the A11 between Paris and Nantes, the A87 towards La Roche-sur-Yon via Cholet and the A85 towards Tours. Rennes can be reach by the expressway D775; and the D761 connects Angers to Poitiers, and Niort. All roads well-traveled by yours truly.

The Castle of Angers began in 1232 under Blanche de Castille as well as a circle wall today the boulevards of the city center . One enclosure has 800 meters long and 17 towers of several meters in diameter and about 30 plus meters high. Once we arrive out of parking we headed straight for the Castle of Angers, a wonderful building and a must see, plenty on it, we like the fact there is a restaurant Inside! and the logis and chapel were recently renovated sparkling nice. The Counts of Anjou installed their residences there, until the end of the Plantagenêt empire which sees the kingdom of France conquer the county of Anjou. Louis IX had the current castle built in the 13C while the Dukes of Anjou transformed it into a stately home in the 15C. In the 16C, following the disturbances of the wars of religion, Henry III ordered the destruction of the castle, but only the upper part of the towers was destroyed. It was subsequently transformed into a prison, then a garrison and ammunition depot during WWII. At the start of the 21C, it housed the Apocalypse tapestry.

A bit of description of the main parts of the Château d’Angers

The Porte des Champs or Fields gate, was the link between the castle and the outside of the city. It is the most attractive architectural element of the castle. Its exterior facing is covered with tufa on two thirds. The last third alternates between layers of tuffeau and layers of schist. The interior of the towers is made up of three ribbed vaulted rooms resting on six bases. These are more elaborate than on the other towers of the fortress and represent faces or plant motifs.

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The Porte de la Ville or city gate used to provide communication between the castle and the city. Less careful construction than the Porte des Champs, it is essentially made of schist and punctuated by chains of tufa. The city gate comprises two circular towers which flank the entrance passage. This passage was altered in the 15C or 16C in order to be able to fit two drawbridges: one, with a double arrow, for the cart passage, the other for the pedestrian crossing.

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The fortress built by Saint Louis in 1230 includes seventeen towers erected with alternating shale and tufa layers. They are about thirty meters high, about eighteen meters wide and interconnected. The ditches were dug from the construction of the fortress during the reign of Saint Louis. To the south, they then separated the castle – built on the hill of the same name from the suburb of Esvière In the 18C, the ditches housed gardens and vegetable plots. The city of Angers became the tenant of the ditches in 1912. From 1936 to 1999, hinds and deers settled there. Today the ditches have been turned into gardens.

The inner courtyard was divided into two parts. The organization of the buildings constructed between the 14Cth and 15C divides the interior of the fortress between the lower court, or garrison court, and the seigniorial court, delimited by the Royal Lodge, the chapel, the Châtelet, and other missing buildings (common, kitchens) now replaced by the gallery of the Apocalypse.

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The Grande Salle or Great Hall of the castle of Angers dates from the first states of the count’s palace in the 9C. It is an aula, a ceremonial hall where the county power is exercised.

A Chapel of Sainte-Geneviève probably already existed on the site before the end of the 9C since around this time, it received the relics of the bishop of Coutance, Laud, who gave it its name of Saint-Laud. The current Sainte-Geneviève-Saint-Laud Chapel is a 12C chapel built overhanging the Maine but outside the 13C enclosure. It measures five by fifteen meters and was covered with a stone barrel vault and semicircular arch. Columns with sculpted capitals still remain on the north wall. It is now visible overhanging at the end of the gallery of the Apocalypse.

The Royal Lodge was built by Louis II of Anjou, around 1410. At the time, the buildings extended as far as the Maine side to return to the Great Hall, thus enclosing the courtyard. Only the dwelling adjoining the chapel currently remains.

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Inside the castle stands the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, built at the request of Yolande d’Aragon, wife of Louis II of Anjou. Its construction began in 1405 and ended in 1413. With its single rectangular nave and its three angel vault bays, it bears witness to the architectural style of Angevin Gothic. The building, wide 23 meters long and 12 meters wide and low for 15 meters under vaults presents at the beginning of the 15C, a decoration typical of international Gothic.

The galerie du roi René or king René’s gallery was built between the years 1435 and 1453 by Duke René d’Anjou. It is made up of four gables, each separated by a buttress. Under each gable have been fitted two windows for lighting the two floors of the gallery, served to by a staircase. The staircase was placed in the corner return formed between the chapel and the royal residence, and serves the first and second floors of the residence. It also provides access to the attic of the chapel.

The Châtelet is the portal of entry into the stately courtyard. It was built by Duke René d’Anjou and completed in 1456. Above the passage, it consists of two floors served by a staircase turret. Three overhanging turrets supported by buttresses and topped with a pepper roof flank the châtelet. The interior consists of a floor and attics converted into housing.

The Logis du Gouverneur or Governor’s house. The current house dates from the 18C, the two wings framing a staircase tower dating from the end of the 15C or the beginning of the 16C The house has four rooms upstairs. In the second, the windows have been arranged in baffles in order to optimise the lighting and to leave no dark angles. The house also has an attic floor, the windows of which are topped with straight pediments.

The galerie de l’Apocalypse or gallery of the Apocalypse. The gallery was built between 1953 and 1954. It measures nine meters high and is slightly buried so as not to exceed the height of the ramparts. The gallery is set at right angles and is part of the layout of the old buildings, which closed the seigniorial courtyard. The first part is 40 meters long, the second 56 meters. The Apocalypse tapestry has been kept there since 1954, however the large openings, which let the rays of the sun and the moon, degrade the colors; therefore, curtains were installed in 1975, then hanging bars to avoid contact between the curtain and the wall in 1980. A constant temperature and subdued light was put in place to limit the alteration of colors.

A bit of history I like as need to put that here even if makes the post a bit long, sorry. History goes along with the above indeed, I love it.

Around the 12C, the palace came under the control of the Plantagenets dynasty. Anjou was then part of the Plantagenêt empire, the palace lost its role as a political center while the Plantagenets sovereigns only occasionally held their court in Angers. In 1214, after the battle of Bouvines and that of La Roche-aux-Moines, the king of France Philippe Auguste confiscated Anjou from Jean sans Terre and united the province to the royal domain, which brought its limits closer to the Duchy of Brittany, The Bretons manage to take Angers in 1227 but are quickly driven out by the troops of the regent Blanche de Castille and Louis IX.

The Anjou will then be left in appendage to the brother of Louis IX, Charles I of Sicily. He will be at the origin of the Capetian dynasty of Anjou. His successors left little mark on the castle, which returned to the royal fold in 1290. Angers then lost its political role and its properties deteriorated.

Anjou became duchy in 1360, a new dynasty, resulting from the House of Valois, will take place in Angers. Louis II, will erect the Royal Logis around 1410. Yolande d’Aragon, wife of Louis II, had a new chapel built to house the relic of the True Cross of Anjou. In 1409, she gave birth, in the apartments of the castle, to her son René. She also had the castle restored to a state of defense, in anticipation of the English incursions. In 1443, the Duke of Somerset, landed in Normandy with 8,000 men, arrived in the suburbs of Angers. An artillery salvo fired from the castle kills one of the Somerset captains who decides to break camp and leave.

René d’Anjou ended up coming into conflict with his nephew the King of France Louis XI over the inheritance of the duchy. Louis XI decides to seize the duchy by force and comes to Anjou in 1474 with his army, forcing René to give up his plan of succession. In 1585, in the midst of the religious war, Catholics and Protestants fought over the castle. Henry III then gave the order to raze it so that neither party could use it against him. The castle is still in use in 1648 when the bourgeois of Angers revolted against the governor, then again during La Fronde. The castle was then used as a state prison and retirement home for invalids. In 1661, Louis XIV ordered d’Artagnan to arrest Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finance whom the king suspected of having embezzled twelve million pounds from the Royal Treasury. After his arrest at the Château de Nantes, Fouquet was taken to the Château d’Angers where he lived for three weeks.

During the French revolution, in 1789, the castle became the seat of the Revolutionary Committee of Angers. At the end of June 1793, the Vendeans, returning from the Virée de Galerne, unsuccessfully besieged the town and its castle. The fortress is then used again as a prison during the Terror and the wars of Vendée.

In 1806, the castle was converted the following year into a civil and military prison. In 1813, a store to accommodate two hundred English sailors prisoners of the Napoleonic wars cut off the chapel. Two years later, after the emperor’s final defeat, the Prussians occupied the fortress. It was reoccupied in 1817 by the French army, which transformed it into an arsenal and a garrison.

The Nazis occupied the site and store their ammunition there. On May 15 and 16, 1944, the Nazis’ army evacuated the men present and their ammunition, for fear of Allied bombardments. Ten days later, on May 25 and 26, Angers suffered its first bombardment. Six bombs fell on the castle, three of which were inside the walls. A vault of the chapel collapsed, the Royal Lodge was set on fire, the roofs were torn off. In 1948, the gardens were planted and the castle was opened to the public. The restoration of the chapel was completed three years later In 1952, the decision was taken to build a building to accommodate the Apocalypse tapestry. It was inaugurated on July 30, 1954.

The official National Monuments of France on the Château d’Angershttp://www.chateau-angers.fr/en#

The Tourist office of Angers on the castle:  https://www.tourisme.destination-angers.com/en/plan-your-stay/your-activities/castels-and-heritage/angers-castle-1617162

The Tourist board of the Anjou-Loire Valley on the castlehttps://www.anjou-loire-valley.co.uk/diffusio/visit/domaine-national-du-chateau-d-angers-angers_TFOPCUUCHAT

The Region of Anjou tourism on the castle apocalypse gallery : https://www.anjou-tourisme.com/fr/decouvrir-lanjou/top-10-des-experiences-vivre-en-anjou/la-tenture-de-lapocalypse-angers

So, there you go folks, a dandy now happy to see it in my blog. Hope you enjoy it too. The Château d’Angers is a must see in the area, keep in your list when possible visit. I love it, and Angers is nice too.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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