History of the fortress
At the crossroads of three provinces of Anjou, Poitou and Touraine.Overlooking the crossroads of the three provinces of Anjou, Poitou and Touraine, the rocky spur on which the royal fortress of Chinon stands is a strategic site that has been occupied since Antiquity and coveted from the word go..
A castle was built there no later than the 10th century. It was Henry II Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and King of England, who gave the fortress its current appearance from 1154 onwards.
In 1205, after a long siege, the King of France Philip Augustus gained control of the fortress and had the Coudray keep built.
In 1308, the site was the setting for a key event in the history of the Knights Templar. The Grand Master Jacques de Molay and a some high dignitaries were imprisoned there before being sentenced and burned in Paris.
It was in 1427, during the Hundred Years’ War, when Charles VII’s legitmacy as the next king of France was impugned, that Joan of Arc came to meet him at the fortress. She came after an 11 day ride - a genuine feat at the time - to assure him of his legitimacy and convince him to get crowned in Reims. This mythical encouter was an important turning point in the Hundred Years' War.
The fortress' decline began in the 17th century, with Cardinal Richelieu who owned it at the time. In 1808, the monument was given to the District Council (present-day Country Council) for free.
Now, after four years of restoration work on a scale unprecedented anywhere else in Europe, seeking to give the castle back the military splendour and cohesiveness that it enjoyed in bygone days, the Department bids you welcome to its 3rd-millennium fortress!
The ultra-modern, interactive and enjoyable museum displays (sonorous benches, touch-sensitive screens, 3D models) - a first in Touraine - will guide you through this history-steeped site.
Set off to conquer the countless towers dotted around 150 metres of restored ramparts. Thanks to the dramatised visit of the royal lodgings, immerse yourself in the civilian and military past of the Fortress and step into the shoes of the key figures who have left their mark on the site. Two rooms are devoted to the representations of Juan of Arc from the 16th to the 20th century. Two others will help you to get a more in-depth understanding of the fortress, through the multimedia content as well as the archeological and iconographic collections. Admire the royal lodgings, restored in the likeness of a local residence in the 15th century , and treat yourself to the breathtaking views from the numerous viewpoints overlooking the Vienne Valley.