By Castle of Angers
The fortress today
The castle as it looks today. Built in the 13th century, the castle was substantially altered in the 16th when its towers lost their roofs and were shortened by 10 meters an amputation which has inspired much writing and scientific and archeological debate aimed at restoring or imagining its upper parts!
Vue générale de la porte des champs du château d'AngersCastle of Angers
A general view of the field gate of Angers Castle as it looks today, after the roofs were removed in the 16th century to adapt the fortress for artillery.
Tours de la courtine est et jardins des fossés du château d'AngersCastle of Angers
The eastern curtain wall with the gardens which were planted in the ditches.
Front nord et porte de Ville du château d'AngersCastle of Angers
The northern front with the city gate which is now the entrance to the monument.
The fortress returned: the models, an educational tool
The models displayed in the castle, based on archeological texts and knowledge dating from the 1990s, show how the castle’s original architecture was changed in the 16th century.
In 1230, Blanche of Castille ordered the construction of an impressive fortress. Its pentagonal shape echoes that of the rocky promontory on which it stands. Substantial resources were deployed in the construction of this impressive fortress: 17 towers between 12 and 13 meters in diameter, surmounted by tall, pointed pepper-pot turrets, linked by a circular passageway roofed with fixed wooden galleries. The fortress has two entrances: the City Gate and the Field Gate which was the main entrance when the castle was built. They are protected by barbicans and a semicircular exterior wooden palisade.
At the end of the 14th century, the castle became one of the regular residences of the Dukes of Anjou who rearranged its interior (chapel, royal apartment block, guard tower, and service quarters). On the outside, stone bastions replaced the wooden barbicans in front of the doors. A third bastion was built at the castle’s foot to monitor the river traffic. Machicolations appeared on top of the ramparts built of projecting stone pierced with openings for launching missiles.
In the late 15th century, the outer enclosure was substantially altered to adapt it to the progress of artillery: the height of the towers was reduced and their roofs were removed. The walls were ramparted (= thickened) and artillery terraces were created. The widened loopholes formed bays for cannon. Watchtowers, small round lookout shelters, were placed on top of the ramparts. Functional new military buildings were erected in the main courtyard (barracks, stables, and an arsenal).
In the middle of the courtyard new functional military buildings (barracks, stables, arsenal) sprung up.
The fortress restored...according to scientific data
These composite images recreate the construction and state of the field gate in the 13th century. They are based on archeological discoveries made on the building site set up for the restoration of the field gate and the southern frontage of the fortress in 2012-2013.
La porte des champs du château d'Angers en cours de construction au 13e siècle by Yann Bernard - Jean-Baptiste BarreauCastle of Angers
The castle’s building site was exceptional because of the financial resources and materials used: in some places, the towers are built of sandstone blocks weighing 150 kg and schist blocks weighing 600 - 700 kg. A helical scaffolding system was used to hoist the stones. The curtain walls are built of small plates of schist.
The field gate under construction with the helical scaffolding.
The field gate and the system used to bring stone to the site.
Depositing stone chains during the construction of the field gate.
Transporting blocks on the field gate building site.
The fortress is impressive with its 17 towers topped with pepper-pot turrets. They are linked by a circular pathway roofed with fixed wooden galleries called hoardings to which access can be gained from the second level of the towers.
A ditch was dug in the schist at the foot of the fortress but was never filled with water. Together with the ditch, the height of the rampart was quite daunting enough.
In front of the field gate, a crossing leveled the ground. The system consisted of a two-level drawbridge, a ravelin and a second drawbridge.
The fortress dreamed...
People have long dreamed of restoring the castle’s towers to their full height. This series of 20th century postcards depicting the castle supports the reconstitutions of an anonymous dreamer or, at any rate, someone mad about history.
Vue générale vers le châteauCastle of Angers
An attempt to reconstitute the tops of the towers and the pepper-pot turrets throughout the fortress.
Statue du roi René et château.Castle of Angers
An attempt to reconstitute the roofs over the field gate. In the foreground, the (19th century) statue of King René, the last Duke of Anjou, born in the castle in 1409.
Pont de la Basse Chaîne.Castle of Angers
In the foreground, the Low-Chain bridge. In the background, the castle showing the reconstituted towers.
Military barracks inside the enclosure and the houses on the quay, no longer there, can be seen.
This virtual exhibition has been put together by teams from the Centre des monuments nationaux, with the help of teams from the Château d'Angers, the support of teams from the images unit and coordination by the digital unit.
The images were taken from Regards - Banque d’images des monuments © Centre des monuments nationaux.