Medieval Donjon Tower of the castle in Loches, France.


Donjon et Cachots


At the southern end of the Cité Royale, the rectangular, 36m-high Donjon (Tour Carrée; defensive tower) was Loches’ original medieval stronghold, built in the early 11th century by the cruel and feared Foulques Nerra, count of Anjou. Though the interior floors have fallen away, you can still see various architectural details, including the remnants of an 11th-century chapel and fireplaces. Climb dizzying catwalks for fantastic views.

Next door is the notorious Tour Neuve, a tower built during the 15th century by Charles VII. In the basement, the circular Cachots (dungeons) are where the unfortunate Cardinal Balue was supposedly kept suspended from the ceiling in a wooden cage for betraying Louis XI. (In fact, this room was more likely a grain store, although you can see a replica of the cardinal’s cage up the stairs next to the Donjon.) The rooftop Terrasse à Feu (Gun Terrace), once a platform for firing artillery, now makes a fine viewpoint.

Reached from the courtyard, the 15th-century Martelet, 27m deep, houses additional dungeons and 11th-century tufa quarries.

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