The village of Amboise is located in the Loire Valley of France. Along with its quaint charm, this small town is famous for its large renaissance castle that looks over the Loire River. It is also known for being the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci, who died in the town in 1519.
My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting the Castle of Amboise a few weeks ago. We were lucky to see the castle when we did, as the next day the French government announced to the country that we would all be in lock down until further notice. In an attempt to slow down the progression of the corona virus, the government has since extended our quarantine to April 15th.
A Brief History
Chateau D'Amboise dates back to the 4th century AD. Sitting next to the river it was recognized early on as clearly having a strategic military advantage. During one of perhaps many medieval battles, trenches were dug at the site to defend the towns residents against an oncoming attack.
Over the next few hundreds of years the property changed hands several times, with each owner likely adding a little extra to the castles fortification.
In 1434 the chateau was seized from it's owner Louis d'Amboise, by Charles VII after it was discovered that Amboise had plotted against Louis XI.
A few decades later, ownership of the residence was given to Louis XI son Charles VIII, who in 1492 constructed a modern day palace at the site. It was constructed by Italian architects and was the first chateau in France to be constructed in the Italianate style.
Charles VIII died tragically at the castle in 1498, only a few years after his palace was completed. The young King hit his head on a door lintel while on his way to watch a tennis match with his wife, Anne of Brittany. He died only a few hours later.
He was 28 when he died and he had no male heir to bestow the property to.
The small Chapel of St Hubert was built on the property in 1493 and is said to be the resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. da Vinci is a figure who is celebrated extensively in the town of Amboise with several restaurants and establishments being named after him in the area. In countless little shops, his face can also be seen on a wide variety of cheesy tourist souvenirs.
My wife and I visited the castle in early March when the first signs of spring were making their appearance. Though I am sure that the site is even more spectacular when everything is in full bloom, we were still quite impressed with the gardens beauty.
Perfectly trimmed hedges intermixed with early bloom spring flowers made the garden seem both architectural and whimsical at the same time. In a way it kind of reminded me of Alice and Wonderland. There is something very satisfying about expertly tailored plants.
The Loire valley is home to a wide range of medieval and Renaissance castles. In fact, there are so many castles in such a small area that a person could easily see six or more during a long weekend if they planned accordingly. Unfortunately for my wife and I, our trip was cut a little short because of the current situation with the corona virus. But that also gives us an opportunity to go back to the area to check out the remaining castles that we missed.
The chateau d'Amboise is one castle that i would recommend seeing if you happen to visit the Loire Valley.