The château of Azay le Rideau was built from 1518 to 1527, one of the earliest French renaissance châteaux. Built on an island in the Indre River, its foundations rise straight out of the water. The long low proportions and the sculptural decorations of Azay are Italianate, in the new antique taste, but the bastion corners capped by pointed cones, the vertical stacks of grouped windows separated by emphatic horizontal string courses, and the high sloped slate roof are unmistakably French. The playful fortifications and the mediaeval donjon towers give it an air of traditional nobility. It is the novel idea of a central staircase escalier d'honneur that is Azay's greatest innovation. Azay le Rideau is surrounded by a distinctly 19th century park like English landscape garden with many specimen trees, especially exotic conifers, atlas cedar, bald cypress, and sequoias from the new world.