The Château d’Azay-le-Rideau (pronounced [azɛ lə ʁido]) is located in the town of Azay-le-Rideau in the French département of Indre-et-Loire. Built between 1518 and 1527, this château is considered one of the foremost examples of early French renaissance architecture. Set on an island in the middle of the Indre river, this picturesque château has become one of the most popular of the châteaux of the Loire valley.
Châteaud’Azay-le-Rideau（發音為[azɛləʁido]）位於Indre-et-Loire法國省的Azay-le-Rideau鎮。 這座城堡建於1518年至1527年間，被認為是法國早期文藝復興時期建築最重要的典範之一。 這座風景如畫的城堡坐落在安德爾河中間的一個小島上，已成為盧瓦爾河谷最受歡迎的城堡之一。
Origins of the Château
The current château of Azay-le-Rideau occupies the site of a former feudal castle. During the 12th century, the local seigneur Ridel (or Rideau) d’Azay, a knight in the service of Philip II Augustus, built a fortress here to protect the Tours to Chinon road where it crossed the river Indre.
However, this original medieval castle fell victim to the rivalry between Burgundian and Armagnac factions during the Hundred Years’ War. In 1418, the future Charles VII passed through Azay-le-Rideau as he fled from Burgundian occupied Paris to the loyal Armagnac stronghold of Bourges. Angered by the insults of the Burgundian troops occupying the town, the dauphin ordered his own army to storm the castle. The 350 soldiers inside were all executed and the castle itself burnt to the ground. For centuries, this fate was commemorated in the town’s name of Azay-le-Brûlé (literally Azay the Burnt), which remained in use until the 18th century.
現在的Azay-le-Rideau城堡佔據了前封建城堡的遺址。 在12世紀，當地的侍者Ridel（或Rideau）d’Azay，一位為Philip II Augustus服務的騎士，在這裡建造了一座堡壘，以保護Tours到Chinon公路，穿過Indre河。
然而，這個原始的中世紀城堡成為百年戰爭期間勃艮第和阿馬尼亞克派系之間競爭的犧牲品。 1418年，未來的查理七世在從勃艮第佔領的巴黎逃到忠誠的阿馬尼亞克堡壘時，經過Azay-le-Rideau。 由於佔領該鎮的勃艮第軍隊的侮辱，這位海豚命令他自己的軍隊襲擊城堡。 裡面的350名士兵全部被處決，城堡本身也被燒毀了。 幾個世紀以來，這個命運在鎮上的名字Azay-le-Brûlé（字面意思是Azay the Burnt）中被紀念，直到18世紀仍在使用。
Architecture and decoration
Set on an island in the middle of the Indre, the château of Azay-le-Rideau seems to rise straight out of the waters of the river, which reflect the castle’s façades so that the château appears to float in its own image. The writer Balzac, who lived nearby and was occasionally a guest at the château, deeply admired the building, describing it as ‘a facetted diamond, set in the Indre’. This striking setting has helped Azay-le-Rideau to become one of the most famous of the Loire’s many châteaux.
This relatively small château is divided into two sections, the main central body and a wing at right angles to it, and displays a blend of architectural styles. The influence of the fashionable Italian renaissance style is clear in its long proportions and ornate sculptural decorations. Alongside these Italiante elements are vestiges of medieval defensive architecture, such as the traces of the covered walkway on the external walls or the machicolations under the roof, which were no longer necessary for defence but were incorporated in the château’s design because of their symbolic prestige. Finally, other architectural features, such as the bastion corners with their pointed conical turrets, the vertically stacked dormer windows separated by a string course, and the high, steeply sloping slate roof, help to give Azay-le-Rideau its unmistakably French appearance.
The château’s most prominent feature is the grand central staircase, the escalier d’honneur. Its design is thought to have been inspired by the staircase of the Château de Châteaudun, which it resembles from the outside, though its internal structure is very different. Azay-le-Rideau’s staircase rises in straight flights rather than in a spiral, as was more usual at this time, and is the oldest surviving staircase of this kind in France.
The staircase has three floors, each with a double bay window forming a mezzanine which looks out over the courtyard. The entryway, which resembles a Roman triumphal arch, is decorated with the initials of Gilles Berthelot and his wife, while the pediments overhanging each window bay are carved with the salamander and ermine of Francis I and his wife, Claude of France, in honour to the monarch of the time. Inside, the ceiling of the staircase is made up of medallions sculpted with the profiles of the kings and queens of France from Louis XI to Henry IV. With its columns and pilasters, and ornate carvings of shells, medallions and other symbols, this impressive staircase provides a clear example of the influence of Italian renaissance style in the château’s design.
城堡最突出的特色是宏偉的中央樓梯，escalier d’honneur。它的設計被設計靈感來自ChâteaudeChâteaudun的樓梯，它與外部相似，儘管它的內部結構非常不同。 Azay-le-Rideau的樓梯在直線飛行而不是螺旋式上升，這在當時更常見，並且是法國現存最古老的樓梯。
The château’s richly sculpted interior decoration once again reflects the influence of the Italian renaissance. It is made up of several drawing rooms and stately apartments, most of which are decorated in the neo-renaissance style popular during the 19th century. Many of these rooms display 16th- and 17th-century Flemish tapestries, most notably the ‘Scenes from the Old Testament’ woven in Audenarde, and the ‘Story of Psyche’, which was created in Brussels and which, in 2009, provided the inspiration for the château’s exhibition dedicated to the Greek myth. The château also houses a significant collection of artwork, including a ‘Dame au Bain’ (possibly depicting Diane de Poitiers) by François Clouet, and several portraits of French monarchs, including Francis I, Henry III and Catherine de Medici.
Also of note are the attics, where the charpente (in French), or the hand-crafted wooden frame supporting the roof, has been recently restored (2010–11) and can be viewed alongside an exhibition explaining the complex techniques of its construction.
城堡富麗堂皇的室內裝飾再次體現了意大利文藝復興的影響。它由幾間客廳和莊嚴的公寓組成，大部分都以19世紀流行的新文藝復興風格裝飾。其中許多房間展示了16世紀和17世紀的佛蘭芒掛毯，最著名的是Audenarde編織的“舊約的場景”，以及在布魯塞爾創建的“靈魂的故事”，並於2009年提供了靈感。這座城堡的展覽致力於希臘神話。城堡還收藏了大量藝術品，包括FrançoisClouet的“Dame au Bain”（可能描繪Diane de Poitiers），以及法國君主的幾幅肖像畫，包括Francis I，Henry III和Catherine de Medici。
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