The Royal Fortress of Chinon was founded already in the 10th century by Theobald I., Count of Blois. Two centuries later, while it belonged to the counts of Anjou, Henry II. (1133-1189) took it from his brother and expanded the structure. He favored the fortress of Chinon as residence and eventually died here on on July 6th, 1189. No wonder we needed to see it while we were in the area, following the history of the Plantagenets.
Arriving at the castle we got our tickets and started our tour with the ‘histopad’. A tablet accompanies you on your visit and lets you see some rooms digitally altered. It gives you the chance to experience the castle as it would have been in the past. Quite neat actually, but overall it’s something to keep the kids entertained.
We started at the Royal quarters and made our way through a magic exhibition, where history meets Hollywood. It was quite fun to see costumes and props from shows like Game of Thrones, the Prince of Narnia, the Hunger Games and so on. But it had nothing at all to do with the history of the Plantagenets, and I was a bit disappointed in that regard.
The castle, with its many accessible towers, provided an excellent view on the town below as well as the river Vienne and the surrounding vineyards.
When it started to rain we stopped for a sandwich at the castle café and waited for the rain to stop. Only the clock tower, which is also the main entrance and exit, was left to visit and from up there one gets a 360 degree around the castle grounds and village. The exhibition inside was forgettable though. So we rushed through and just took some pictures of the view.
The castle court yard looked really pretty from the top of the tower. But most importantly, you get a feeling for the dimensions of the complex. This is such a huge structure. Imagine how imposing it must have looked in the 12th century during Henry II. reign.
We left the castle again through the main tower gate. Being not tall to begin with, I felt almost dwarfed by the sheer size of it.
But only when you cross the river Vienne and view the castle from below, did I realize what an achievement the building of this fortress must have been. How awe inspiring and striking it must have looked to friends and foes. It speaks of the greatness of the Plantagenet kings! Yours, Pollybert