VISIT CHATEAU ANGERS
- Date of construction: Pre 10th and early 13th centuries
- Location: Maine-et-Loire, Pays de la Loire
The original fortress at Angers was constructed because of the strategic position next to the Maine River, in a position that was earlier occupied by the Romans for the same reason.
Much of the current chateau was constructed in the early 13th century, between 1230 and 1240, by Saint Luois after his grandfather Philip II had captured the region from the English. For the following centuries it remained an important castle as base for the Angevin Kings.
The chateau is enormously sturdy, with several hundred metres of defensive walls further reinforced by a total of 17 towers. Entrance was is through one of two drawbridges across a moat. It is one of very few defensive castles that was never successfully taken successfully by siege.
It was during the 14th and 15th centuries that Angers castle was most important, and during this period the impressive Apocalypse tapestry was also commissioned - the important and substantial work depicts the story of the apocalypse on a series of six tapestries, reaching over 100 metres in length.
The building itself was again further modified and the chapel added at this time to house a fragment of the cross of the crucifixion.
During the 16th century the castle was home to Catherine de Medici. Later in the same century her son, Henry III, removed much of the defensive capabilities of the castle with the stone being used to develop the surrounding town.
The importance of the castle diminished, and it was used as a garrison and military training centre. Curiously the Duke of Wellington, later to defeat Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo, received his training here in Angers, France.
The castle was seriously damaged during the Second World War when a stock of arms inside the castle exploded.
The interior of the castle walls is much less imposing than expected from the outside. Within the castle perimeter are two central courtyards, one of which contains the chapel, and attractively planted, and the palaces of the Dukes of Anjou.
Nowadays the castle is equally well known for its very important and priceless collection of medieval tapestries, held in the Governors Lodge, including of course the original Apocalypse Tapestry.
The moat around Chateau Angers no longer contains water, but has been planted with attractive French style gardens.