Have you ever been to a place for the very first time and somewhere inside, you feel like you have been there before? Been there, not necessarily in reality but perhaps in your readings. You remember, because the description was so vivid. For a moment in time I saw the pages in the book come alive. I have been there before, not physically, but somewhere in the books.
The Chateau stood on the rocky spurs overlooking the Loire River. As we crossed the bridge leading to it, was I experiencing my favorite passage from “Bridge to Terabithia”? We saw it from afar, the magnificent structure, long before we mapped how to get to it. We were two lost friends, trying to find our way to the Chateau du Amboise. Every corner of its structure screamed power. Although it was a cloudy day the massive structure somehow found a way to radiate, revealing the intricate designs on each stone. During the beautiful scenery, a heron fished for its breakfast in the Loire River, that we needed to cross to get to the Chateau. The Chateau was the heart of royal power in the Renaissance, a place of refuge for the Valois and Bourbon Kings. In its kingdom, many momentous events took place, such as: births, christenings, aristocratic marriages, peace treaties, and even conspiracies. The fortress was built to ensure the royal family’s safety. It is only 18 minutes away from my new home and one of many beautiful castles along the Loire River.
Since Neolithic times, this Chateau has been occupied and the city of Amboise became the settlement of Turones. The first settlers were Celtic. Gallo-Romanesque was the style for the first fortifications. However, in 1491 after Charles VIII married Anne Bretagne he decided to move to Amboise and launched the extension project. The final project is the flamboyant Gothic style. Charles even went to Italy to search for numerous Italian artists. What fascinates me the most is the St. Hubert Chapel, in it lies the great Italian master, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). After a brilliant career, he moved to Amboise in 1516 at the age of 64. It was there that he became friends with King Francois 1, the successor of Charles VIII. He gave him the Clos Luce and called Da Vinci “first painter, engineer and King’s architect”. The Clos Luce is about 5 minutes walk to from the palace. It is a very intriguing home. The yard is turned into a park where you can explore Da Vinci’s inventions. There once was a secret tunnel from the palace to the da Vinci home, unfortunately, it is closed to the public.
I have no words to describe what it felt like to read about something and then see it right before my eyes. I never dreamed of seeing where the great Da Vinci took his last breath. We read and sometimes we crave to have these images become vibrant. As we travel and see remarkable things, we are sometimes surprised at our findings. Do we then travel to be awakened? Do we travel to find answers to the profound descriptions that are burning at the back of our minds? One thing for sure, we travel to become more appreciative of the life that has been given to us.
Thanks for reading!