Château de Madrid
The Château de Madrid was a Renaissance building built in the early 16th century in Neuilly, on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, near Paris. It fell into disuse in the 17th and 18th centuries and was almost completely demolished in the 1790s.
Austin Dobson notes:
In Reresby’s Travels, 1831, p. 6, is the following reference to this “villa,” now no longer in existence:— “Near unto it [Saint Germain] stands another, built by Francis the First, called Madrid, to evade his engagement to Charles, the fifth emperor, who had taken him prisoner, and after giving him liberty, upon his engagement to return to Madrid, if he could not accomplish such terms as were agreed on betwixt them for his release; which not being able to do, he made this, and came to it, instead of returning into Spain.”
Dr. Martin Lister also describes Madrid in his Travels in France, 1698:— “It is altogether moresque, in imitation of one in Spain; with at least two rows of covered galleries running quite round, on the outside the four faces of the house; which sure in a hot country are really refreshing and delightful; and this is said to be on purpose for a defence against a much hotter climate than where it stands, which that king [Francis the First] had no mind to visit a second time.”
The construction of the château was ordered by Francis I of France in 1527, who had been captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 and held for some months in Madrid. On his return to France in 1526, Francis found the Louvre uncomfortable, and he desired a new palace. Initially called the Château de Boulogne, the new building quickly became known as the Château de Madrid, taking its name from the Royal Alcázar of Madrid, the destroyed royal castle in Madrid. Both buildings were constructed on the edge of a forest near a large city, and both were made up of a long central corps de logis with loggias on two storeys and a cubical pavilion at each end.
Described by John Evelyn (entry dated 25 April 1650) :
“I went out of town to see Madrid, a palace so called, built by Francis I. It is observable only for its open manner of architecture, being much of terraces and galleries one over another to the very roof; and for the materials, which are mostly of earth painted like porcelain, or China-ware, whose colors appear very fresh, but is very fragile. There are whole statues and relievos of this pottery, chimney-pieces, and columns both within and without. Under the chapel is a chimney in the midst of a room parted from the Salle des Gardes.
The house is fortified with a deep ditch, and has an admirable vista toward the Bois de Boulogne and river.”
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