(Ciamberì or Sciamberì
) is the capital of the department
. It has been the historical capital of the Savoy
region since the 13th century, when Amadeus V of Savoy
made it his seat of power.
Chambéry was founded at crossroads of ancient routes through the Dauphiné
, and Italy
, in a valley between the Bauges and the Chartreuse Mountains on the Leysse River. The metropolitan area has more than 100,000 inhabitants, extending from the vineyard slopes of the Combe de Savoie
, almost to the shores of the Lac du Bourget
, the largest natural lake in France. The city is a major railroad hub, at the mid-point of the Franco-Italian "Lyon-Turin Ferroviaire" rail
The history of Chambéry is closely linked to the House of Savoy
and was the Savoyard capital from 1295 to 1563. During this time, Savoy encompassed a region that stretched from Bourg-en-Bresse in the west, across the Alps to Turin, north to Geneva, and south to Nice. Eventually, to insulate Savoy from provocations by France, Duke Emmanuel Philibert moved his capital to Turin
in 1563, and, consequently, Chambéry declined. At its height, Savoyard weapons were highly respected, and many of Europe's mightiest armies fought with weapons made in Savoy. Chambéry and the Duchy of Savoy were returned to the rulers of the House of Savoy in 1815. The need for urban revitalization was met by the establishment of the Société Académique de Savoie
in 1820, which was devoted to material and ethical progress, now housed in an apartment of the ducal Chateau.
Château de Chambéry
The first counts of Savoy settled into an existing fortress in 1285 and expanded it in the early 14th century to serve as residence, as seat of power and administration, and as stronghold for the House of Savoy. As a serious fortification genuinely capable of resisting a siege, it was quickly obsolete. Due to constant French hostilities, Duke Emmanuel Philibert
decided to remove his capital to Turin. The chateau remained purely an administrative center, until Christine of France, Duchess of Savoy, returned to hold court in 1640. In 1786 Victor Amadeus III
added a Royal Wing. Under Napoleon, the Aile du Midi
("South Wing") was rebuilt and redecorated to house the imperial prefecture of the department of Mont-Blanc. Elaborate modification to the structure were made after Savoy was annexed by France in 1860.
Today, the political administration of the department of Savoie is located in the castle.
Fontaine des Éléphants
The Fontaine des Éléphants
("Elephants Fountain") is surely the most famous landmark in Chambéry. It was built in 1838 to honour Benoît de Boigne
's feats when he was in India
. This statue, which represents the forelimbs of four elephants truncated in a column in the shape of the savoyan
) cross was first hooted by the inhabitants, annoyed to see elephants in their city, but it appears that now, most of them have accepted. Witness of the previous dislike, the statue kept its nickname of les quatre sans culs
, ("the four without arse(s)" sounding almost like the title of the best-known movie of the most prominent nouvelle vague
director François Truffaut
: "Les quatre-cent coups"/The 400 Blows
Archbishop of Chambéry
Chambéry is also an archdiocese
. The jurisdiction does not precisely conform to the boundaries of the modern arrondissement
and includes some towns in the arrondissement of Annecy
), and in the arrondissement of Albertville
Amadeus IX, Duke of Savoy and his Duchess Yolande of France built a ducal chapel for their prized relic, the Santo Sudario, the Holy Shroud (now in Turin). In 1467 Pope Paul II, erected a chapter directly subject to the Holy See. In 1515, Leo X was going to make the religious jurisdiction an archbishopric and published a bull to that effect, but King Francis I of France objected. It was only in 1775 that this jurisdiction was separated from the Diocese of Grenoble by Pope Pius VI. In 1779, the see at Chambéry became a bishopric, the fourth bishop for Savoy. After the French Revolution, when Chambéry returned to the Kingdom of Sardinia ruled by the House of Savoy, it became the seat of an archbishop (1817).
The Cistercian Abbey of Hautecombe, founded in 1135, is one of the burial places of the House of Savoy. Saint Francis de Sales officiated at Notre-Dame de Myans (established before the 12th century). Francis I of France went to Notre-Dame de l'Aumône at Romilly (13th century) as a pilgrim. The Sisters of St Joseph, an order founded at Chambéry in 1812 and devoted to teaching and charitable work, are now widespread.
Chambéry is home to the 13th Battalion of the Chasseurs Alpins
Chambéry was the birthplace of:
- François de Candie, 1st Vice-Count of Geneva, "Ancien Vidam de Genéve", (c. 1314 – 26 December 1360; in Italian Conte Franco de Candia) was a nobleman and military commander of the Royal Guard of Savoy
- Gauvain de Candie, count of Derruyre, novelist and poet of the House of Candia, in 1475 at age 28 he composed the famous "Chason d'Amoure" recited poems to the ducal couple of Marguerite of Austria and Philibert II, Duke of Savoy.
- César Vichard de Saint-Réal (1639-1692), novelist
- Amédée-François Frézier (1682-1773), engineer, mathematician, spy, and explorer
- Benoît de Boigne (1751-1830), military adventurer in India
- Xavier de Maistre (1763–1852), writer, military man
- Michel de Certeau (1925-1986), Jesuit and scholar
- Federico Luigi, Conte Menabrea (1809-1896), Italian prime minister and general
Chambéry is twinned with: