Chateau Guédelon – A 13th Century Castle in the Making

It is sometimes unbelievable how beautiful architecture was created in ancient times, without the use of modern technology. A medieval construction project in Treigny, France, aims at understanding exactly how this was possible. Guédelon Castle is a project that is being completed with only the materials and techniques that were available to man in the Middle Ages. Of course, it’s going to take decades to complete.

The construction of Guédelon Castle started back in 1997. Michel Guyot, the owner of the nearby Saint-Fargeau castle, first got the idea of the project when he was restoring his own property. Over the years, the project has matured in terms of complexity, and has become a major tourist attraction. Today, it has created over 55 jobs and draws around 300,000 people every year. It also acts as an educational backdrop for school excursions. The design of the castle is based on the architectural canons laid down by the King of France,  Philip II Augustus, in the 12th and 13th centuries. The work done is mostly manual and slow, involving materials such as wood, earth, sand, stone and clay. The blueprint of the castle includes a moat and six towers. What’s even more fascinating is that the workers dress in the garb of medieval times.

Photo © Ela2007

The location for the Guédelon castle project was wisely chosen – it has an abandoned stone quarry and a pond nearby – making the availability of raw materials easier. It’s also just a two hour drive from Paris, so tourists can easily make their way to the construction site. What’s wonderful about Guédelon Castle is that it is a classic case of experimental archaeology – where academics learn the old skills of construction through practical means, instead of just relying on models. The construction of the castle is expected to be completed in the 2020s. When it is finally finished, the world will get to see a 13th century medieval castle, in brand new condition.

Guedelon Castle 2005; Photo © Christophe.Finot

Guedelon Castle 2006; Photo © ~Pyb

Guedelon Castle 2007; Photo © Avvincent

Guedelon Castle 2009; Photo © Odejea

Guedelon Castle 2011; Photo © mll

A Computer Generated Image of how Guedelon Castle will look when completed