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The grand staircase

L'escalier vue depuis l'allée d'honneur

The grand staircase of the castle catches your eye as soon as you arrive. A symbol of prestige and a place of representation, let yourself be dazzled by this architectural masterpiece!

New influences

An innovative architectural construction

While French castles are traditionally equipped with spiral staircases, the most famous of which is that of the Château de Blois, the staircase of the castle of Azay-le-Rideau is an innovation with its straight banister staircase, positioned in the center of the main building  .

This staircase is the most innovative element of the château d'Azay-le-Rideau and testifies to the importance of Italian influences in the new constructions of the Loire Valley.

The staircase known as "ramp on ramp", crossing the entire main building, appeared at the beginning of the 16th century. The one in Azay-le-Rideau is one of the oldest preserved.

The great staircase
The great staircase

Thomas Jorion - Centre des monuments nationaux

An original integration

The adoption of this architectural bias is not without problems of adaptation! Look closely! Since the staircase crosses the entire building in the direction of the height, the resting landings are at intermediate levels and therefore not aligned with the windows in the façade.

In order to better integrate the staircase visually, the architects had the idea of monumentalizing it by framing it with a rich sculpted decoration and by integrating large bays open to the outside. Loggias The loggias and the columns that frame them emphasize the upward movement of the structure. These large bays also have the advantage of seeing and being seen!

The great staircase from the Horseshoe Courtyard
The Great Staircase from the Horseshoe Courtyard

Philippe Berthé - Centre des monuments nationaux

The sculpted decoration of the staircase

Just like the architecture, the sculpted decoration of the staircase mixes French and Italian ornamental traditions. One can see many elements inspired by antiquity: pilasters plant scrolls putti Shells Medals .
This superb sculpted decoration continues inside.

The staircase owes its finesse to the talent of the craftsmen who worked on the Azay-le-Rideau site, but also to the quality of the local stone, tufa, a soft limestone that is easy to carve.

Want to know more about thearchitecture of the castle?

Figure of Francis I carved on the great skylight of the great staircase
Figure of Francis I carved on the great skylight of the great staircase

Hervé Lewandoski - Centre des monuments nationaux

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