Fontainebleau Castle

Fontainebleau Castle

Admin Admin February 12, 2023 Place to Visit

Palace of Fontainebleau (/ˈfɒntənbl/;[1] French pronunciation: ​[fɔ̃tɛnblo])[1] or Château de Fontainebleau, located 55 kilometers (34 miles) southeast of the center of Paris, in the commune of Fontainebleau, is one of the largest French royal châteaux. The medieval castle and subsequent palace served as a residence for the French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon IIIFrancis I and Napoleon were the monarchs who had the most influence on the palace as it stands today.[2] It became a national museum in 1927 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 for its unique architecture and historical importance.


Medieval palace (12th century)

The earliest record of a fortified castle at Fontainebleau dates to 1137.[4] It became a favorite residence and hunting lodge of the Kings of France because of the abundant game and many springs in the surrounding forest. It took its name from one of the springs, the fountain de Bliaud, located now in the English garden, next to the wing of Louis XV.[5] It was used by King Louis VII, for whom Thomas Becket consecrated the chapel in 1169; by Philip II; by Louis IX (later canonized as Saint Louis), who built a hospital and a monastery, the Couvent des Trinitaires, next to the castle; and by Philip IV, who was born and died in the castle.[4]

Renaissance Château of Francis I (1528–1547)

In the 15th century some modifications and embellishments were made to the castle by Isabeau of Bavaria, the wife of King Charles VI, but the medieval structure remained essentially intact until the reign of Francis I (1494–1547). He commissioned the architect Gilles Le Breton to build a palace in the new Renaissance style, recently imported from Italy. Le Breton preserved the old medieval donjon, where the King’s apartments were located, but incorporated it into the new Renaissance-style Cour Ovale, or oval courtyard, built on the foundations of the old castle. It included the monumental Porte Dorée, as its southern entrance, as well as a monumental Renaissance stairway, the Portique de Serlio, to give access the royal apartments on the north side.

Beginning in about 1528, Francis constructed the Galerie François I, which allowed him to pass directly from his apartments to the chapel of the Trinitaires. He brought the architect Sebastiano Serlio from Italy, and the Florentine painter Giovanni Battista di Jacopo, known as Rosso Fiorentino, to decorate the new gallery. Between 1533 and 1539 Rosso Fiorentino filled the gallery with murals glorifying the King, framed in stucco ornament in high relief, and lambris sculpted by the furniture maker Francesco Scibec da Carpi. Another Italian painter, Francesco Primaticcio from Bologna, (“Primatice” to the French), joined later in the decoration of the palace. Together their style of decoration became known as the first School of Fontainebleau. This was the first great decorated gallery built in France. Broadly speaking, at Fontainebleau the Renaissance was introduced to France.[6]