Abbadie Castle

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Abbadie Castle, north side

The Château d'Abbadie is surrounded by a spacious park, in the French town of Hendaye , in Pyrénées-Atlantiques . It got its name from its owner, the French cartographer and world traveler Antoine Thomson d'Abbadie .


When Antoine Thomson d'Abbadie decided in 1860 to have a castle built as a manorial residence, he chose the Aragorry area near Hendaye as the building site. He commissioned Eugène Viollet-le-Duc as the architect , who handed over the practical implementation to his assistant Edmond Duthoit. Of all the works of Viollet-le-Duc, Abbadie Castle is something special, as it was a completely new building and not a reconstruction of ruins. Construction began in 1864 and was completed in 1879.

Abbadie donated his castle, including its inventory and the associated lands, to the French Academy of Sciences , of which he was a member.

Building description


The neo-Gothic exterior of the castle with the main tower, various multiple towers and battlements is clearly inspired by medieval shapes. But the interests of the client himself were also reflected in the architecture. For example, numerous inscriptions and inscriptions can be found in various languages ​​such as Irish , Basque , Arabic , Ethiopian and German.

inside rooms

The interior decoration is strongly characterized by Viollet-le-Duc's way of using many shades.


Apse of the castle chapel

The castle chapel has a simple structure, but with an exceptionally rich decoration. It is spacious as it used to have to provide space for all the farmers in the Abbadia domain. Your altar stands at the eastern end of the choir and is framed by three colored glass windows. The middle one shows Christ, flanked by the church fathers Thomas Aquinas and Augustine von Hippo in the other two windows.

The western end of the choir is decorated with frescoes depicting the hermits Paul of Thebes and Anthony the Great in the desert. In the middle of the chapel there is a gallery as a connection to the bedroom of the lord of the castle and his wife Virginie, whose shared grave is in a narrow crypt under the altar.

Guest bedroom

This bedroom, with furniture designed by Duthoit, was reserved for passing guests. Its wood paneling on the walls is decorated with Arabic inscriptions. His canopy bed bears the Latin inscription "Sweet sleep, golden dreams for whoever rests in it, a happy awakening, an excellent morning" .

Dining room

The walls of the dining room are covered with buffalo leather. As in the guest bedroom, the furniture is designed by Edmond Duthoit; including a table with inlaid work and a sideboard that was specially used to store the banquet porcelain. The furniture also includes 18 chairs, each with an embroidered Ethiopian letter. Placed next to each other in a row, they form the sentence “May one never find a traitor at this table” .


The main staircase

The lounge is a circular space and is located in the south tower. Its walls are painted blue and have the applied, golden monograms A and V (for Antoine and Virginie) in Gothic script. The room is furnished with furnishings that Antoine d'Abbadie brought back from his expeditions and a world exhibition . A stone fireback shows the inscription “More reality than appearance” .

A boudoir in Moorish style and an Arabic smoking room are connected to the lounge .

Main staircase

The large main staircase connects the ground floor with the upper rooms. The stairwell is lit by a window with stained glass. A Latin inscription greets visitors: "Welcome to those who step under this roof ..." . On the highest landing there is a wooden statue of Abdullah, a young Ethiopian slave who was freed by the lord of the castle and taken to France and tragically died during the Paris Commune . Frescoes on the walls of the stairwell depict scenes from everyday life in Ethiopia.


The room has paneled walls and a window to the north (towards the ocean) and south (with a view of the mountains). The bedroom is equipped with a black-marbled fireplace, above which a large gold-plated mirror is attached. Portraits of Antoine d'Abbadie and his wife Virginie hang on either side of the fireplace. The room has a direct connection to the gallery in the chapel.


The world traveler Abbadie used the library as a workplace. The room has a small gallery on both of its long sides, in which Antoine d'Abbadie's personal collection is kept. The shelves on the ground floor contain astronomical publications from the former observatory.

The ceiling beams bear some Basque idioms such as: B. "It only takes one fool to throw a stone into the well, and six wise men to bring it up again" .


In the castle's own observatory , the 1880 installed Meridian telescope can still be seen today. It was mainly used to find out the exact position of stars in order to ultimately enable the publication of celestial data in various catalogs. The work on this was only finished in 1975.

Antoine d'Abbadie wanted to study the refraction of rays with the telescope and had the castle walls broken through several times near the main gate in order to be able to observe the summit of La Rhunc (905 m). This project was unsuccessful, however, and so Abbadie scratched the Basque words "I saw nothing, I learned nothing" over the last hole made .

Jerusalem bedroom

This room owes its name to a precise map of the "Holy Jerusalem". It is placed above the fireplace with the Latin inscription "Your thoughts go up in the same way as the flame" . The walls of the room show scenes of the Passion and symbols of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela .

Imperial bedroom

Emperor Napoléon III. should signal the completion of the construction work on the castle with a symbolic, final stone setting. A very elaborate and lavishly decorated room was specially set up for his overnight stay. But by the defeat in the Battle of Sedan during the Franco-German War , Napoléon III. no longer perform this symbolic act, as he was brought to Kassel by Prussian troops and placed under arrest in Wilhelmshöhe Palace .

The imperial bedroom is furnished with finely crafted furniture made of black oak in the late neo-Gothic style. Above the bed, which is lavishly decorated with fantastic animals such as dragons and owls, it is written in Latin: "Travelers enjoy a peaceful rest in a hospitable house" . The upper part of an impressive chimney is made of stone carving depicting Anthony the Great, the holy patron Antoine d'Abbadies.

Web links

Commons : Abbadie Castle  - Collection of images

Coordinates: 43 ° 22'39 "  N , 1 ° 44'57"  W.