The castle was started in 1466, and completed by Duchess Anne, whose statue stands at the drawbridge entrance. Its severe ramparts hide a sumptuous white limestone palace, a forerunner of the sophistication of the Renaissance.
A few steps away, the Gothic Cathedral holds the amazing black and white marble tomb of the parents of Anne of Brittany, ornamented with allegorical statues. The meaning of one of them, with the faces of an old man and a young woman, remains a mystery. Near the castle, the medieval quarter of Bouffay has retained all its charm. Its façades with their wooden wall sections, half-timbering and corbels, some going back to the 15th Century, will carry you back in time.
The 18th Century was the golden era for the people of Nantes, thanks to the development of the trade with the colonies. The richest ship owners built on the "île Feydeau", where you can see their fine freestone façades trimmed with ironwork and ornamented with figureheads. That golden age of the Siècle des Lumières can also be seen at the place Graslin, which was designed in a semi-circle like an amphitheatre, and the place Royale, where the statue of Nantes dominating the Loire and its tributaries stands.
The heritage of Nantes has treasures from every century. The 19th Century was the century for "follies". The best known are the magnificent passage Pommeraye, combining neoclassical style with a sumptuous décor, and La Cigale, without a doubt the finest brasserie in the world in the 1900 style. The LU Tower and the Titan Crane are reminders of industrial dynamism and the era of the first naval shipyards. The Chantenay quarter, its Butte Ste-Anne and the delightful "guinguettes" of Trentemoult are eternal reminders of this period.
The urban landscape is daring in its contemporary design. Le Corbusier made his mark with the imposing Cité radieuse at Rezé. The newly-built Nouveau Palais de Justice by Jean Nouvel triggers the metamorphosis of the Ile de Nantes into a new modern centre for the conurbation. Machines of the Ile de Nantes with the famous "Grand Eléphant" is located in the heart of Nantes.