Hidden treasure: the Oriental room

Every château has its own hidden treasure, and Villandry’s is tied to the East, with its large ceiling and airs of a Moorish palace. The Oriental room is topped with a Mudéjar-style cupola that adds exotic marquetry to the room’s charm.

Visitors cross the rooms on the ground floor amid French decor until, all of a sudden, they arrive at the end of the North-East wing and are surprised to discover an Oriental room! This room owes its magnificence to the Mudéjar-style ceiling, which is typical of Hispano-Moorish art. This coffered cupola came from the Ducal Palace of Maqueda, built in in the 15th century in Toledo. It was dismantled in 1905, and Joachim Carvallo purchased a section of the ceiling. It is composed of 3,600 wooden pieces and it took a year of labour to put it back together at Villandry. The ceiling was crafted by Moorish craftsmen for Spanish Catholic clients, and the combination of scallop shells, Franciscan ropes and eight-pointed Arabic stars is evidence of the syncretism at the time. 

This small wonder is highlighted by the bareness of the room which only displays paintings that belonged to the Marquis of Castellane. These paintings depict four scenes of everyday life in the Ottoman Empire, which is modern-day Turkey, and are a reminder of the Marquis of Castellane’s diplomatic work as a French ambassador to the Sultan under Louis XV
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