While Renaissance châteaux populate the Val de Loire region, surviving medieval townships are few and far between. With its remarkable royal lodge and donjon (also known as a “keep”), the Cité Royale de Loches contains one of the most handsome fortified strongholds in France, dominating the town and the Indre valley.

Cutting an unwonted figure amidst the landscapes of the Loire, the 37-meter-high donjon is a masterpiece of military architecture and one of the most satisfactorily conserved in Europe.  With its plentiful painted and engraved inscriptions, it immerses visitors in a long-gone prison system. Erected in the 11th century to protect and defend the “weak” side of the fortress, along with the round tower and the Martelet (little hammer) tower, the awe-inspiring donjon is part and parcel of an imposing complex that can be reached from the royal lodgings via the alleyways of the medieval township.

A favored residence and pleasure dwelling catering to members of the Valois dynasty, the royal lodgings bear the imprint of numerous historical figures and influential women: Joan of Arc, Anne of Brittany and the mistress and confidante of King Charles VII, Agnès Sorel.

The lodgings contain two sections, constructed during different periods; the residence of  Louis I, Duke of Anjou, was built in the 14th century; it was complemented during the reigns of  Charles VIII and Louis XII by the “Anne of Brittany” residence.

A new visit itinerary is now proposed, and the staging has changed ; an interactive journey is punctuated by sound animations, video presentations and film projections. Five centuries of history are enlivened anew.

A visit with HistoPad is offered at the donjon. Thanks to digital technologies and the latest innovations in augmented reality (AR), a visit to the thousand-year-old Loches donjon has been transformed into a unique experience fully accessible to one and all.

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