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Cadillac Castle

National Monument

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The name Cadillac is well known all over the world because of the Detroit based General Motors manufactured Cadillac car. Few know however that it comes from the name of the French founder of Detroit, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, a name that makes reference to the little French town of Cadillac in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region.
Historically Cadillac is a bastide founded in 1280 by the Edward I, King of England for the defense of Bordeaux.
In 1315 the bastide surrounds itself with a defensive structure from which survive 2 gates, 3 towers and almost the entire wall.
The most important historic monument of the town is the "Cadillac Castle".
The castle was built between 1599 and 1610 by Jean-Louis Nogaret de la Valette (1554-1642) Duke of Epernon, who started his career as a favorite of King Henri III, but later became a powerful opposing figure to King Henri IV, who, trying to diminish the duke's power, encouraged him to build a Château, albeit magnificent, far from capital. (Far from Paris Epernon might had lived but this did not prevent him from indirectly participating in the assassination of Henri IV in 1610).
Built symmetrically around a central pavilion that houses the main staircase, the Cadillac castle is one of the first examples of the so called "à la française" architecture. Only the main building and the two adjoining lower wings remain from a construction that was once counting 60 rooms!
The austere exterior architecture was hiding a luxurious interior that can be still appreciated through the magnificent collection of tapestries that cover the walls, the wooded painted ceilings, the monumental fireplaces - the best collection in France - and the few pieces of furniture that decorate nowadays the place.
The castle has a strange history in that after the French revolution when it was abandoned by the descendants of the Epernon family was transformed in and was used as a women's prison between 1818 and 1890. As prison it became notorious for the high mortality of the inmates (around 8% to the country's average 4%) and the harsh living conditions - the remarkable French-style fireplaces in the dormitories being used not for heating but as toilets!
The nowadays Cadillac castle has undergone several restoration programs and is listed as a national monument.

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Address:Cadillac, Gironde
Visiting Hours: Closed on December 25th, January 1st and May 1st
June to September from 10am to 1:15pm and from 2pm to 6pm
October to May - closed Mondays.
Open from 10am to 12:30pm and from 2pm to 5:30pm


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