The chateau houses one of the finest museums of historical paintings in France. This unique historical complex is second only to the Louvre in Paris. Thousand paintings, among which you’ll find Raphael’s Virgin of Loreto, Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci by Piero di Cosimo, pictures by Botticelli, five thousand pieces of graphic artwork are on display in this amazing castle, which is also a home to the precious library containing 30,000 books and 1,500 illuminated manuscripts.
The name of chateau of Chantilly origins from the ancient Roman name Cantilius – the person built a villa in this area during the times of the conquest of Gaul by the Romans.
The founder of the present castle was Duke of Montmorency (1493 – 1567), an influential figure in the court of the King Francis I, in 1522 he was made Marshal of France. In 1528 Duke of Montmorency built a palace in Renaissance style on the site of an old castle.
Later came the Bourbon Condé family, cousins of the kings of France. Le Grand Condé, the most famous of them, organized parties and balls with fireworks in this charming place. He entrusted to lay out of the grounds to the royal architect Le Nôtre, who created a magnificent complex of fountains and ponds.
During the French Revolution (1789–1799) the castle was badly damaged. The art collections were confiscated and sent to the Central Museum of Fine Arts (later the Louvre), and the chateau turned into a prison. In 1815, the castle was returned to the ownership of the royal family, and in 1830 Duc d’Aumale inherited Chantilly.
In 1886, Duc d’Aumale left Chantilly to the Institut de France with the condition to make it a museum. The Conde Museum remained intact, which explains the fact that the paintings of different art styles and schools hang close to each other in several horizontal rows.
Chantilly is also the site of a famous racetrack, a remarkable Musée Vivant du Cheval occupies the magnificent 18th century stables. As the legend has it the Prince of Condé who built the stables, believed that he would be reincarnated as a horse.
Interestingly, both the Great Stables and the Château de Chantilly were featured in the 1985 Bond movie ‘A View to a Kill’ as the estate of evil Max Zorin (Christopher Walken).