Not to be missed: An Early French Renaissance gem

During his stay in Naples, King Charles VIII was enraptured with the Renaissance works he saw. He was a pioneer, bringing the earliest influences from the Italian model to France and making his château a showcase of the Early French Renaissance.

Of all its illustrious owners, the Royal Château of Amboise remains perpetually bound to the memory of a king who shaped it in such a beautiful way that it became a gem of the Early French Renaissance style. Charles VIII, who was born in the château, wanted to turn it into a magnificent Gothic palace. He began major work, building the Saint-Hubert chapel and new residences connected to two huge knights’ towers, called Heurtault Tower and Les Minimes Tower, which provided access for horses and carriages to the château’s terraces from the banks of the Loire. They are predecessors of today’s multi-storey car parks! These projects were built in the Flamboyant Gothic style and were later embellished by the king using early Italian influences after his visit to Naples. Awestruck by what he had seen, he returned with the idea of adding decoration from the Italian lexicon to his beloved château. Charles VIII was a forerunner of the French Renaissance.

He brought over Italian workers including a gardener and monk called Dom Pacello, who re-designed the exterior by introducing Italian decoration and, notably, a pavilion with open archways housing a fountain. By planting gardens within the fortress itself, Charles VIII initiated major changes in the art of gardens at the time, which his successor, Louis XII, continued. The gardens’ original splendour has faded over time and they have been transformed into a contemporary Tuscan landscape offering the finest panoramic views over the Loire
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