Friday, April 06, 2012

Loches, France - June 15, 2011

Loches is a small market town in the Indre-et-Loire department of the Centre region. It has actually increased its population by about one third over the last two centuries to its present count of 6,400 persons.
The town originally formed around a monastery that was founded about 500 CE by St. Ours and which belonged to the Counts of Anjou from 886 until 1205. It was subsequently seized from King John of England by Philip Augustus and, from the middle of the 13th century until after the time of Charles IX of France, the castle was a residence of the kings of France.
Loches lies close to the river Indre and at the northern foot of a rocky prominent on which was built the Château de Loches. Inside the 13 foot thick wall surrounding the complex is the collegiate church of St. Ours, the royal lodge and the donjon.
Designed and occupied by Henry II of England and his son, Richard the Lionheart, the castle stands 100 feet above the Indre.
After its capture by the French, it was upgraded into a huge military fortress. The castle became a favorite residence of Charles VII of France and later was converted for use as a State prison by his son, King Louis XI. During the American Revolution King Louis XVI used the castle of Loches as a prison for captured Englishmen.
During the French Revolution, the château was ransacked and although some restoration was begun in 1806 significant areas exist just as ruins. The 11th-century donjon is a massive 76 feet by 51 feet with walls more than 9 feet thick and its four storeys stand 121 feet high with each floor used as a single room.
Some mixed light industry exists around town including distilling, tanning and
pottery making along with more modern ventures including electronics and automobile equipment. More pictures here.

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