If you’re fascinated with the middle ages, you don’t need a time machine to visit the period. Guedelon Castle in Burgundy, France is a unique project where volunteers and researchers are constructing an authentic 13th century castle, using only techniques and materials that were available at the time.


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Michel Guyot and Maryline Martin started Guedelon Castle project in 1997, and it has been nearing its inevitable completion ever since. Today, it has created over 55 jobs and draws more than 300,000 visitors every year.

There is even a period-accurate backstory attached to the project that guides the design and construction. In the annals of Guedelon, works began in 1228. Each year that passes is a year in historical time too, so we are now in 1248. “The rule is that only what we know from documents that existed at the time is allowed,” says Sarah Preston, an English guide. “Funnily enough, we found that even though we knew we were being accurate, somehow the castle lacked soul. So we invented a character – the owner – who would have likes and dislikes, wanting this and not wanting that.”

Seigneur Guilbert is a middle-ranking feudal lord, who was granted the right to build his castle because he sided with the crown during a rebellion in 1226.

“At one point we realized the stonemasons were cutting the stones for the towers too perfectly, which just wouldn’t have been appropriate. It would have suggested he had a lot of money and therefore a small army in the chateau, which wasn’t the case.” Completion of this incredible wonder is expected around 1253 – or 2023 in today’s world.

More info: guedelon.fr

In France, people are building a castle from the 13th century using only medieval building techniques and materials

Image credits: Guédelon

Michel Guyot and Maryline Martin started Guedelon Castle project in 1997, and its completion is expected around 2023

Image credits: Guédelon

Here, stonemasons are working on bricks and keystones

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

Workers transport stones by cart

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

Special cranes are built to take heavier rocks to higher levels of the building site

Image credits: Guédelon

In the annals of Guedelon, works began in 1228. Each year that passes is a year in historical time too, so we are now in 1248

Image credits: Guédelon

“The rule is that only what we know from documents that existed at the time is allowed”

Image credits: Guédelon

They’re paying extreme attention to detail for the interior as well. Here’s a shot of the timber work inside the castle bedroom

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

Another view of the castle bedroom and its decorated walls

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

Even the transport around the site is medieval: people use site carts and horse-drawn carriages to move around

Image credits: Guédelon

Workers are also re-building servants’ homes and buildings used for daily life

Image credits: Guédelon

A look at some of the woodwork in the castle’s halls

Image credits: Guédelon

Some of the building techniques had to be re-discovered or improvised, such as the exact combination of materials for the mortar

Image credits: Denis Gliksman

Those who want to do more than just visit the castle can also pitch in and work for a few days — about 650 people each year volunteer to do so

Image credits: Guédelon

Here’s a British engineering student Cloe, from Northampton, walking in a winch drum at the construction site

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

And another volunteer playing with geese

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

A man works at the construction site

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

Clement Guerard, a blacksmith at the site since 1999, poses in his workshop

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

Man grinds flour in a gristmill

Image credits: Guédelon

The location was chosen because most of the building materials are nearby. There is rock for the walls and towers, big oak trees for wood and close access to water and sand

Image credits: Denis Gliksman

This is how it looked like in the early stages of the project

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

And a glimpse of the building plan for the castle shows how it will look completed

Image credits: Guédelon

This is how Guedelon Castle looks now

Image credits: Jacky Naegelen

Be sure to watch the video to find out more secrets of this chateau