Have you ever looked at an ancient castle and wondered how in the world it was constructed without modern machinery and modern technology? How did they lift such heavy loads? How did they hew the stones? How did they make the tiles for the roof? There is a place that will answer all your questions.
To quote their website, Guédelon sheds light on these mysteries of the medieval world.
We were making the drive between Amboise in the Loire Valley and Beaune in Burgundy and wanted to see something interesting on the way. My husband is a building contractor who loves architecture and seeing how things are constructed and I am a history buff. Guedelon seemed like a perfect choice!
We arrived that gorgeous May afternoon to find the parking lot full of cars and lots of buses. Because of the spring field trip season, there were many groups of school children here. I’ll be honest, my heart sank a bit and I began to wonder if this was the right place for two middle aged adults. Once inside the grounds we found the school groups to be well tended, well behaved, and well dispersed!
I guarantee you that we enjoyed ourselves as much as any of the 10 year olds!!
So…perhaps you are wondering…what is Guedelon exactly?
Situated in a forested area near an old rock quarry Guedelon is a tourist attraction where a castle is being built from scratch using only medieval methods and materials. Surrounded by visitors, a team of master builders, various craftspeople, and volunteers work together building and teaching and creating something astounding.
The castle itself is surrounded by a replica of a village which contains all the buildings that the townspeople would have needed to aid the construction of the castle. There is a mill, a blacksmith shop, a basket weaving area, gardens, tile making kilns, dye making for the painting of the interior walls and for the dyeing of the clothing the workers wear. Each one of these places is functional and necessary. No modern ropes, or baskets, or tools, or…well…anything are used. As you walk the path surrounding the castle you can watch craftsmen actually creating everything that is being used in the construction of the castle.
In addition there is a spokesperson at each section explaining the process. Some only spoke French but we had a little pamphlet in English with a map and an explanation of what was happening in each area. The craftspeople that did speak English were very helpful, but you could pick up on most everything just from watching them work.
They have been building the castle for 20 years already and say that it will take about 20 more. We found it to be a fascinating place and I highly recommend a visit if you are interested in medieval history, or construction or architecture. If you are traveling with children Guedelon is definitely a must see!
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