Frankreich France Burgbaustelle Castle Construction Site Guédelon

Knight’s castles. Which child is not fascinated by them? On hikes with their parents they are the highlights. The chance to gaze at (and climb on) one of the numerous ruins has always motivated me as a teenager. Getting up on Sundays instead of sleeping on. But the fascination remained with me over the years. When you visit the castle ruins you can only fantasise what they looked like centuries ago. For more than twenty years now, however, there has been the possibility not to observe the fall of a once proud building, but the new construction of a “knight’s castle” from the 13th century: The Guédelon castle construction site in France.

Strictly speaking, the Guédelon castle construction site is a project to reconstruct a castle using 13th century techniques. For fascinated children’s (and adults’) eyes, however, it is much more than that.

Living history

For fifteen years, I had followed the Guédelon castle construction site from a distance via the Internet. Located two hours south of Paris (and seven hours west of us), the site is not suitable for a Sunday afternoon excursion. And Treigny is not on the way to our long time preferred holiday regions either. But when we decided to spend a week free with our CamperVan in France, it was clear to me that we would make a detour to Guédelon.

My euphoria increased the closer we got to the construction site. The approach via narrow roads and through small villages did not give us any idea that we were on our way to one of the (for me) most monumental construction sites of our century. However, it was strongly dampened, when we could throw on the eve of our visit a first view of the parking lot before the castle: We felt like we were at the Europapark. Cars and buses, where the eye reached. Then it became clear to me that I had to distance myself from my romantic head cinema. I remembered that the entire project was financed only by entrance fees. And I relaxed again.

A wild overnight stay

Frankreich France Burgbaustelle Castle Construction Site Guédelon Übernachtung
Übernachtung auf dem Weg nach Guédelon

We spent the night wild a few kilometres away in the middle of an abandoned farm. While the combine harvesters and tractors harvested from the fields right next door, we prepared our bed and fortified ourselves for the next day.

The next morning we set off early to avoid the expected rush of visitors, but it wasn’t as bad as expected. The two hundred or so visitors quickly spread out over the vast grounds. We saved the highlight and made a tour through the “village” first.

Authentic and committed

Stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenters, shingle makers, blacksmiths, tile makers, dyers, rope makers. All the craftsmen needed for a building of this size had their own huts or areas. The committed employees spoke freely about their everyday lives and answered the many questions of the international audience. It soon became clear that these were not extras from a museum, but craftsmen who put all their skills and energy into this project.

Many animals walked freely around the grounds: geese, pigs, goats, chickens, peacocks. Those who spent the night in one of the spacious stables or gates were brought into the stable a short time later to work in front of the cart or for milking.

The authenticity of the facility and the people who worked there was impressive. Tools were made and maintained in the forge itself. Materials needed for the construction (boards, beams, nails, tiles, fabrics, …) were also made by the workers themselves. For some materials (paints, cement), the road to a mature product that could be used in practice was long because the project staff had only a few historical records. Thus, the principle of experimental archaeology was applied in a trial-and-error process. The water pipes used, which were made from individual elements in a specially constructed oven, were also created in this way.

An impressive building

The actual castle construction site Guédelon is really impressive. It gives a dramatic impression of how people must have built such a building in the early Middle Ages. Lifting devices, the predecessors of our cranes, impress with their sophisticated construction. They are moved by the sheer muscle power of the employees, who are also wrapped in authentic clothes. We immediately felt reminded of our beloved Peter-and-Paul-Festival 🙂

The fact that the project has been running for more than twenty years can be seen from the buildings. On the roofs of the huts, moss grows thicker than shingles and even the foundation walls of the castle show the patina of the years in some older places.

Take a look at our pictures. They give you a first impression of what awaits you there. Also on YouTube there are many videos about the castle construction site Guédelon. We were in Guédelon at the beginning of 2018. At the moment it looks different again. Some things have changed.

On the official homepage you can find the latest pictures.

If you get big eyes at the sight of an old castle, you must have seen this plant!

Bildergalerie Guédelon Castle Construction Site

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Daten Guédelon Castle Construction Site

EmpfehlungsgeberTom Glasauer
Typ der Empfehlung· Culture · Natural Thing · Other

Lage Guédelon Castle Construction Site

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