Last weekend we visited le Donjon and le Logis Royale – we’ve wandered through the Cité Royale a fair bit, but we hadn’t yet had the chance to go inside.
The Donjon in Loches was built between in stages from the 11th to 15th centuries, and is the tallest and most intact dungeon remaining in Europe. It’s a pretty impressive structure – there are many winding staircases, up to tallest tower and down down down to the depths of the tunnels beneath the Martelet. There are so many little hallways leading off to cells, rooms, and more staircases. To put it simply, it’s an amazing place, and mind-blowing to think of what went on inside.
In the tower, we visited the torture chamber (I couldn’t quite bring myself to take pics of the shackles…), the “Salle de Graffiti” which is covered in carvings on the walls dating back many hundreds of years, multiple cells, rooms, and the rooftop terrace.
The doors in the dungeon were pretty interesting to me – the thickness of the wood, the many different iron bars, handles, and locks.
We then went through the courtyard and down to the Martelet, where there were more cells, including that of the duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. He was treated as a “privileged” prisoner because of his status, so he had a latrine, furniture, and even heating. He was also allowed the company of his jester, and he painted the walls of his cell. He died in his cell in 1508, after having been in this particular cell for 4 years (though he was arrested and imprisoned in 1500).
In the dungeon’s 36 metre high keep, the floors and roof are long since destroyed, but you can still see the impressions of the fireplaces on each level. You can almost imagine the ceremonies and receptions that were held in the “grande sale” on the ground floor of the keep.
There was one room which housed a detailed model of the Donjon. It was pretty interesting the way it was made, with the white bricks at the tops the walls and towers representing how it originally looked, the white being the parts which have since crumbed away (as well as all of the roofs gone).