The Château d'Azay-le-Rideau was built on an island in the Indre River during the reign of Francis I. A subtle blend of French tradition and innovative Italian decor, it is an icon of the new art of building in the Loire Valley in the 16th century.
The designers of Azay-le-Rideau, were inspired by the diamond cutting method and applied it to the castle's building. When there is no wind after a rainfall, the water around the castle is so smooth and quiet that it reflects a perfect image of the castle. The water is like a water mirror, which is the wonder of this castle. Honoré de Balzac said it was like "a faceted diamond set in the Indre".
The Castle of Azay-le-Rideau is considered one of the examples of French Renaissance architecture. American medieval architectural historian Charles Herbert Moore once defined French Renaissance architecture as ’’French Renaissnce Architecture is a mixture of the Italian Renaissance, a little drop of Gothic form, less emphasis on rules and correct proportions and more on inventiveness and surface richness.‘’
Charles once analyzed the Castle in his work ’’This overhanging attic is carried along each side of the building, and its numerous small square windows are so spaced as to give the intervening wall solids somewhat the appearance of battlements, while steep gables, crowned with spiky pinnacles, and high dormers and chimneys make up a total composition of great picturesqueness. The larger features are all of medeval form, but the windows are flanked with classic pilasters and crowned with entablatures.‘ ’it illustrates well the hybrid and factitious character of early French Renaissance design.
The most elaborate, and admirable feature of this building is the grand stairway of Azay-le-Rideau, which embraces the main portal. It is a highly characteristic example of French Renaissance design in which distorted neo-classic details are worked into a pseudo-Gothic scheme.
The sculpted pilasters raised above the roof are the characteristic of French Renaissance style.
One of the greatest achievements of the French Renaissance was the construction of the Loire Valley castle group. The Castle of Azay-le-Rideau absorbs both the Art Nouveau style from Italy and the French architectural art.
The Castle of Azay-le-Rideau, built in the early 16th century, has passed into the hands of several owners. In 1905 the castle was purchased by the State, and it was classified as a historical monument in 1914.
In addition to the view from the water mirror and the English garden, every year, the castle is open for exhibitions. This exhibition of 2019 is called ''LES ENCHANTEMENTS D’AZAY'', designed by modern artists Piet.sO and Peter Keene, They have drawn on the artifices of theatrical arts from the period to create six installations animated by fantastical objects. Les enchantements d’Azay offer a dreamlike journey that explore the imagination of the Renaissance.
The exhibition will change at the end of this year. If you are interested in this exhibition, don’t miss this dreamlike journey through mechanical and sound installations.
There is also a Priory Garden in the castle for you to wander around in. The Castle was bought in 1791 by Charles de Biencourt (the Marquis of Biencourt). Throughout the nineteenth century, the Biencourt family transformed the park into a beautifully English-style landscaped garden. The garden was praised as a ‘’delicious English garden’’ by Charles de Biencourt. If you want to enjoy the peaceful and relaxing day, stroll in the English gardens of the Castle of Azay-le-Rideau, which will evoke a moment of serenity between majestic trees and winding paths.
Words and Photographs by Yi ZHAO
Address : 19 rue Balzac, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau
1) By car : From Tours - exit n° 11, D 751 to Chinon From Poitiers : N 10 to Sainte Maure, then D 760 & D57 to Azay-le-Rideau
2) By train : Take 2.5 hours from Paris Montparnass station to Azay-Le-Rideau Château station
Opening Hours : 10:00-17:15(January 1st - March 31st) / 9:30-18:00(April 1st - June 30th) / 9:30-19:00(July 1st - September 30th) / 10:00-17:15(October 1st - December 31st) / Closed on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th
Price : Full price - 10.5 euros / Reduced price(18-25 years old) - 8.5 euros / Free under 18 years old and on the first Sunday of each month from November to March