Tourist Attractions in Angers
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The stout, black- and white-banded chateau in Anger is the city's star attraction. It is one of the largest medieval castles in France. Built for action rather than pageantry. It has been involved in many struggles, from medieval sieges to an Allied bombing raids. It has also played host to some of history's most seminal figures.
An Ancient Fortress of the Loire
There has been a fortification on this spot since Roman times. A lofty, strategic position overlooking the River Maine made sure of that.
In the 9th century it was home to the Count of Anjou. He later became part of the Angevin empire of the Plantagenets. That was until Philip II conquered the area in 1204.
The structure has a hefty 3m-thick outer walls and 17 towers. These were added by Philip's grandson, Louis IX, between 1230 and 1240. Their size meant the fortress was one of the most formidable military constructions in France at the time. It is now one of the best-preserved chateaus north of the River Loire.
Inside the Chateau
The castle's wide walls mean you can walk on the majority of its ramparts. From these hights one is afforded spectacular views of Angers and the countryside beyond. The chateau's most prized artefacts are the famous Apocalypse Tapestries. These are held in a purpose-built gallery in the courtyard.
The castle's courtyard is a marked contrast to its austere, foreboding exterior. It is filled with greenery and populated by fine Gothic structures. The first is The Royal Lodgings added by Louis II and Yolande d'Aragaon. Second of these is the 15th-century "saint chapelle".
This chapel contains a relic of the Passion. It is said to be a splinter from the True Cross, acquired by Saint Louis. It was to this chapel that the Dauphin was given sanctuary after he fled from Paris during the Hundred Years' War.
Used as a Military Garrison
As imposing as the chateau remains today, it was once even more so. In 1562 Catherine de' Medici was busy restoring the structure to its previous status as a powerful fortress. The Huguenots then threatened to attack it. Catherine's son, Henry III responded by lessening the castle's fortifications. He reduced the height of the towers by 10 metres.
However, Henry was secretly, simultaneously improving the chateau's defensive capabilities. The removal of the towers' conical steeples allowed artillery to be placed on the upper terraces. The building's newfound sturdiness came under its first real test at the end of the 1700s. Its hardy walls withstood a massive bombardment from the Vendean army around then. Despite the fury of the attack, the assailing canons could do no more than dent the castle's mighty bulwarks. With this its reputation as a was garrison bolstered. Amilitary academy was then set up within the chateau's grounds.
Interestingly a renowned attendee here was Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. This man was destined to best France's forces at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The Final Test of Chateau d'Angers
The final test of the stronghold's mettle came in World War II. The Nazis used the chateau to store munitions. The arms were destroyed in an Allied bombing raid. Yet, despite heavy internal damage, the castle's structure remained unmoved.