The medieval donjon (keep) at Loches is everything you want in a ruined castle. Enough of it has survived that there is plenty to climb around in. There's a torture chamber. There are tunnels inside the walls where shooters would be positioned for defense. There's a meticulously tended middle ages garden.
The taller of the castle's two towers is the actual keep, but it's just the shell. All the innards (floors and stairs) are long gone. It's the older part of the castle, built in the eleventh century. You can still climb to the top, however, thanks to a set of steel stairs (160 steps) that have been installed in recent years. The views from up there are amazing.
This photo is of la tour ronde (the round tower), the shorter of the two. It's amazingly intact and you can climb all the way to the top, visiting its various rooms along the way. Each room has a little exhibit about something related to the castle's history, including a model of what the entire castle probably looked like back in the day. The tower was built in the fifteenth century (newer than the rest of the castle).
The tour ronde has a characteristic castle defense feature called machicoulis (machicolations in English). These are comprised of the the stones that look like inverted steps at the top of the wall (called corbels) and the open spaces in between from where defenders could shoot arrows or drop stones (or maybe even boiling oil!) on their attackers.
We didn't go up into the keep this time, but we did climb up the 102 steps to the top of the round tower. While up there, we noticed something peculiar. A stiff wind was blowing right up the side of the tower wall and was forced through the open spaces of the machicoulis (they have steel grates on them now to keep your feet from falling through). The wind was pushing little droplets of water up into the air; the droplets hovered on the air current for a few seconds before blowing away. Very cool.
We climbed down and wandered around the garden for a bit. Then, as usual, we exited through the gift shop.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
1 day ago