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Brissac castle: luxurious giant of the Loire Valley




Brissac Castle (Château de Brissac) was built by the Counts of Anjou in the 11th century. Like most of the castles of the Loire Valley, it was originally a fortified defensive structure, but over time, thanks to its monumental facades and huge size, it got the nickname “giant of the Loire Valley”. The architecture of the building, which is the cradle of more than 500 years of history of the family of the dukes of Brissac, is surprisingly original. It combines the formal austerity of the defensive towers of the 14th century and the luxurious sophistication of the sculptural ornaments of the 17th century.

After the victory of King Philip II of France over the English, the Count of Anjou gave the property to Guillaume de Rocher.

Brissac castle

Photo: W. Bulach, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Brissac castle

Photo: Manfred Heyde, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

In the 15th century, the castle was bought by Pierre de Brézé, the wealthy chief minister of King Charles VII.

Brissac castle

Photo: W. Bulach, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

During the French Wars of Religion, the castle was badly damaged and was even supposed to be demolished. However, Charles II de Cossé sided with Henry of Navarre, who was soon to become King of France. In gratitude, King Henry gave him the castle, money for its restoration and the title of Duke de Brissac.

Brissac castle

Photo: Daniel Jolivet, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

 

Brissac castle

Photo: PierL62, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

In 1600, the Duke of Brissac entrusted the construction of a new palace on the site of the old fortress to his architect Jacques Corbino. In 1621, Charles II de Cossé died, and it led to a sudden and final cessation of work. Construction will never be resumed and completed by his successors. That’s why the façades we see today are so surprisingly yet enchantingly patchy.

Brissac castle

Photo: W. Bulach, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In 1620, a historic event took place in Brissac Castle: Louis XIII, in the presence of the highest clergy of the country, reconciled with his mother, Marie de Medici.

Brissac castle

Photo: Gerd Eichmann, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Brissac castle

Photo: Selbymay, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Family memories, portraits, paintings, flowers and candles are collected in the gold-finished living room… This indicates that Brissac is a family castle in which each generation has sought to convey love and respect for ancestors in order to preserve the heritage and traditions of hospitality. The table is laid in the dining room: it seems that invited guests are about to gather for dinner with the duke right now!

Brissac castle

Photo: Gerd Eichmann, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The memorabilia and decorations in the Hunting Hall demonstrate the French aristocracy’s age-old devotion to hunting. Today’s Marquis and Marquise are avid hunters who can organize hunts for experienced riders. The Marquis is Chairman of the Angers Hippodrome, France’s representative in the World Association of Historic Houses, and Grand Master of the ancient Chivalric order of Saint Lazarus. Marquise has a theology degree.

Brissac castle

Photo: Selbymay, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Brissac Castle has many unique features. There is a private theater here, built in the nineteenth century for a duchess who loved to play musical instruments and sing. There is also a private chapel. And, stepping on the massive front staircase, pay attention that its steps are made of monolithic stone slabs.

Brissac castle

Photo: Gerd Eichmann, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Brissac castle

Photo: EmDee, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Walking through these halls with their luxurious decoration, you will certainly appreciate the magnificent style, typical for a country that has been setting trends in art, decor and fashion for centuries.

Brissac castle

Photo: W. Bulach, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Brissac castle

Photo: Libens libenter, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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