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Palace of Fontainebleau: The Home of Kings

2021-10-28
Language:English
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The Palace of Fontainebleau, or Château de Fontainebleau, is a majestic palace situated approximately 65 kilometers (40 miles) to the southeast of Paris, France. With its 1,530 rooms, four courtyards and 130 hectares of luscious green surroundings, the Palace of Fontainebleau is one of the vastest palaces in the whole of Europe. Over the past 800 years, it has housed some 34 French monarchs, from Louis VII in the 12th century to Napoleon III in the 19th century. But the château was not always as magnificent as it is today.

The charismatic and humble King Francis I was a well-loved leader, and is also remembered for the cultural rebirth and awakening that took place in France during his reign. The Renaissance had begun in Florence, Italy, and was characterized by a surge of interest in the classical arts and writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the founding of a new way of thinking, awakening humans to greater possibilities. This new humanist vision is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such renowned polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. During this period, many beautiful buildings, magnificent statues, and glorious paintings were produced. Nothing paid a more perfect tribute to this revolution than the transformation of the medieval Fontainebleau Castle into the sumptuous Palace of Fontainebleau under the reign of King Francis I.

Glorious representations of this new Renaissance-style can be seen in three historic rooms: the Francis I Gallery, the Duchess of Étampes’ chamber, and the ballroom. The gracefully decorated Palace of Fontainebleau was King Francis I’s largest building project and quickly became his favorite place of residence. He liked it so much that when he spoke of visiting Fontainebleau, he referred to it as “going home.”

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