The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France, is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King François I.
Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley ; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for François I, who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and Château d'Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with several doubts, to Domenico da Cortona. Some authors claim that the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme had a considerable role in the château's design, and others have suggested that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed it.
Chambord was altered considerably during the twenty-eight years of its construction (1519–1547) during which it was overseen on-site by Pierre Nepveu. With the château nearing completion, François showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old archnemesis, Emperor Charles V at Chambord.
In 1792, some of the furnishings were sold and timber removed. For a time the building was left abandoned, though in the 19th century some attempts were made at restoration. During the Second World War art works from the collections of the Louvre and Compiègne were moved to Château de Chambord. Now open to the public, in 2007 the château received 700,000 visitors.
The Loire Valley (French: Vallée de la Loire, pronounced: [va.le də la lwaːʁ]), spanning 280 kilometres (170 mi), is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France. Its area comprises about 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi). It is referred to as the Cradle of the French Language, and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards (such as cherries), and artichoke and asparagus fields, which line the banks of the river. Notable for its historic towns, architecture and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period. In 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites.