I've never lived in a city with a proper castle just up the road, so the fact that Angers just happens to have this chateau that was built in the end of the 12th century and that everyone who lives here is just like, "Oh yeah, it's not a big deal" is kind of crazy. Awesome, don't get me wrong, but crazy. Le Chateau d'Angers was the first stop on our guided tour through the city last week, and it knocked me breathless from the first moment my eyes saw it. The gardens exist where the moat used to be and are much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than a moat (although that would've been really cool too, I think).
The chateau is a mix of white stone and black stone, which were harvested from what the locals call the "White Anjou" (Anjou is the province of France, and Angers is the capitol of Anjou) where the sandstone comes from, as pictured above, and the "Black Anjou" where the slate on all of the roofs is from. It wasn't until our guide was explaining that gargoyles were originally created to funnel the rainwater away from the façade because the stone is very sensitive to nature and eventually will dissolve into nothing if exposed to enough water that I knew their purpose was for anything other than keeping evil spirits away.
Inside the chateau they have these models of the evolution of the chateau, so you can watch it grow and evolve into what it is today.
It's really interesting to see how it's been modified and rebuilt and changed to accommodate new threats, new ways of life, new times. And how it was at first very modest and now it is a grand thing.
The architecture of the chateau is incredibly fascinating, and the various styles all existent in one place make for a very happy Indigo. I could have happily spent hours wandering around, just taking everything in. You can also see parts where there have been more modern renovations and additions, such as the door and windows on the left, where the newer white stone is inlaid in the older.
One of the things that Le Chateau d'Angers has in it is the Tenture de l'Apocalypse (Tapestry of the Apocalypse), which was commissioned by Duke Louis 1 of Anjou in 1373. The original was about 140m long, but today all that remains is just over 100m. It is housed in a room that is pitch black except the gentle lights illuminating the panels, so as not to damage the fabric further and to preserve it for as long as possible. Standing less than five feet from something so beautiful and with such historical meaning and value was a surreal moment for me. I may still be pinching myself to make sure it really happened.
After viewing Tenture de l'Apocalypse we went up to the towers to look out over Angers, which was another stunning sight. There is something so magical about a city that lives in such a modern world with such grand pieces of history built into it, creating the roots and shaping life even today.