Viva Leonardo da Vinci 2019! 500 Years of Renaissance in the Loire Valley
The year 2019 will mark the 500th anniversary of several important Renaissance events: the birth of Catherine de’ Medici in Florence (April 13), the start of construction on the Château of Chambord (September 6) and, most significantly, the death of Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise (May 2). The Loire Valley region will celebrate these events, as well as the artistic, scientific and intellectual legacy of the Renaissance in France.
The Loire Valley, notable for its kings, gardens, river and chateaux, is considered the birthplace of the French Renaissance. Historic figures such as King Francis I, Catherine de’ Medici and Leonardo da Vinci made significant contributions to the spread of the Renaissance here and were instrumental in stimulating artistic creation, philosophy, science and literature. The castles of the Loire are probably the greatest byproduct of the times. Fittingly, the Loire Valley, along with the cathedrals of Chartres and Bourges, has received the honor of being listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its cultural and natural importance.
The Loire Valley was the privileged home of the Valois, the French royal family at the time of the Renaissance, and their impact was profound on the region's two central provinces of Touraine and Orléans, as well as further afield in places like Berry, Maine and Poitou. In particular, their enthusiastic embrace of Renaissance fervor led to the construction of many castles: the Domain of Chambord, Clos Lucé, the chateaux of Amboise, Blois, Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, Valençay, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Anet, Loches and Villandry, and the cities of Bourges, Tours, Romorantin-Lanthenay and more.
With this in mind, in 2019 the Loire Valley will be celebrating 500 years of Renaissance. The region aims do this by showcasing its innovative and creative dynamism – a kind of renewed and reinvented Renaissance – in association with major contemporary art venues such as the FRAC Centre (a regional contemporary art collection) in Orléans, the CCC OD (Olivier Debré Center for Contemporary Creation) in Tours and the Regional Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire, which is an Arts and Nature Center.
But it is artist and scholar Leonardo da Vinci who really embodies the spirit of Renaissance times. A symbol of art and science, and a man who demonstrated that anything was possible, he left Rome for Amboise in 1516, upon invitation by King Francis I, and took up residence in the “Cloux” Manor, now known as Clos Lucé. This is where work on three French masterpieces began: the Mona Lisa, “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne,” and “Saint John the Baptist,” all of which are now kept at the Louvre. Our duty to remember Da Vinci's magnificent accomplishments and give long life to his spirit will find expression throughout 2019.
The celebrations will, therefore, be much more than simple commemorations. The events will resonate at national and international levels, designed to inspire a popular historic, artistic and scientific movement through eclectic programming that targets both the general public and people with more scholarly knowledge. Events will be anchored in major themes of the Renaissance, including heritage, arts and literature, music, gardens, science and technological revolutions, architecture, craftsmanship, gastronomy and, more generally, different ways of life.
Celebrations will be held throughout 2019. A cultural program is currently taking shape and already features a large traveling digital show mixing contemporary artistic and musical creation, an international architecture competition, guided tours, banquets, many exhibitions, international symposia and more.
“500 Years of Renaissance” will be far more than remembering a moment in history. Instead, it will set a new course for a Renaissance revolution. Even now, local heritage can be discovered through innovative applications of technology, and the Loire Valley actively encourages and supports multiple projects in this field. We invite you to join us by sharing information about “500 Years of Renaissance.” The Renaissance spirit flows through the Loire Valley!
Direct TGV from Roissy airport to Tours (1hr40)
Direct trains from Paris to Tours, Orléans, Bourges, Chartres
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LOIRE VALLEY TOURISM
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