21 September 2007

Château d'Angers

Surprisingly, the castle isn't as interesting as its history. The castle itself (the royal residences) is actually very small, though the lands are big. Interesting, but not hugely interesting. The geography of the castle is something like this:
There's a dry moat around the castle, where there are pretty gardens and lots of grass.
Inside the moat are the fortress walls. There are seventeen towers, and it's enormous.
Inside the fortress walls there's a central garden, a gatehouse, a little vineyard, a few minor buildings that are mostly in ruins, and the chapel/royal residences. You can go inside most everything, but everything is either empty or converted into tapestry museum. I like tapestries, but I'm not a huge fan of empty. Fun to explore, and it feels old and imposing, but not fascinating. And there aren't many signs explaining what things are, they prefer for you to buy an audioguide.
However, I got took some fun pictures to post. Don't get me wrong, it's an impressive castle, but I suppose now that I live in France I've gotten spoiled and this one just doesn't seem as impressive as it should be. I love the fortress though.

Here's a picture of one of the outer walls. The fortress walls are built into the natural stone in places, which contributed to its strength. The château d'Angers is one of the few castles in France that was never defeated or conquered.

Here is the interior of the chapel. In French, a chapel is called a "Sainte Chapelle" (literally, "holy chapel") if its relic was from the Passion. Usually the relic is a splinter of the Cross, as it was here. Churches used to be colorfully painted, but over time it fades. You can see a bit of the original paint here. The second picture is a close-up of one of the murals.

The most important work in the tapestry museum is the Apocalypse Tapestry, which is the largest tapestry series in the world. All together, it's 100 meters long (a bit more than 100 yards) and there are two rows. They were made in the late 14th century, so the colors are very faded, but it's still very impressive. You're not allowed to use flash, so none of my pictures are great, but I did get a good one of a butterflyish creature whose wings are rather patriotic.

Here are some pictures of the view from the ramparts. This building is the chapel and royal residences, which are connected.

This shows the exterior of the towers, which is striking when compared with the modern road and buildings across the street.

You know how in the Midwest there are squirrels everywhere? In Angers, there are lots of lizards. This is the first time I got my camera out in time to get a picture before one flitted away.

This is a view out of one of those little holes you fire arrows out of in a siege. You can see the moat garden and a pigeon.

Here are some of the towers and the moat, and in the distance you can see the Place du Président Kennedy. No kidding.

Here's a picture my camera's self-timer took of me. You can sort of see the center of town and the top of the cathedral.

The castle walls are old enough that a lot of plants have taken root. Even on the towers there are flowers growing.

The tallest tower, which once had a windmill on it, offers a panoramic view of the city. Here's a picture of the Maine, one of the two rivers Angers touches.

Here are the central gardens of the castle, also viewed from the windmill tower.

Finally, a bit of superfluous randomnity. In Russia, I lived in the city of Blagoveschensk (Благовещенск) which is situated at "intersection" of two rivers, just like Angers. Fun coincidence! Here are, for your comparing delight, satellite pictures from Google Earth of Blagoveschensk and Angers, respectively. I wonder Y both of my study abroad years have been in places that look like this...

The End!


Kathleen said...

The tapestries you saw have an interesting history:


Jakob said...

Ha, that river thing is rather coincidental.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm I really really want to say thank you for posting some interior views of the chateau! Most appreciated from a high school french student!

Kel said...

Glad they helped!