The Château de Tours !!!

Let me right off the bat tell you that this is an older post that I am updating with new text and links using same older pictures, Therefore, let me tell you about a favorite town of mine, Tours in the Indre et Loire dept 37 of the Centre Val de Loire region and its wonderful historical castle, the Château de Tours.  This one is strictly on the history I like; but why would you visit a castle otherwise!

The Castle of Tours is right on the edge of the Loire river in the oldest district of Tours, close to the Cathedral of Saint Gatien, erected on the remains of the ancient city whose towers originates. Almost entirely destroyed in the 18C, its two remaining towers are accommodateded with a new building used by the army from the French revolution. After serving as barracks, it is in this singular configuration that it is taken from oblivion and restored in the second half of the 20C.

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This is a long history, and I will condense as much as possible so bear with me, Anyway,any questions just ask me !

The 11C initial dungeon and its dependencies were later absorbed by a quadrangular enclosure in the 13C, before a massive destruction leaving space for military buildings from the 18C onwards.   The Counts of Blois, became Viscounts then Counts of Tours, had in the 9C a residence located more to the east of the castle (tower Hugon) ,the new stone construction of the 11C is erected on the site of primitive thermal baths used until the 4C (Lower-Empire), from the time of the Gallo-Roman City of “Caesarodunum”.

Consecutively built between 1044 and 1060, it recycles the stone wall and bricks of the gallo-roman fortification of the Old City enclosure (castrum) in the corner of which it is built. This 4C wall, much thicker (4.50 m) than those of the new building (2.60 m), is already endowed with towers and gates. The château comtal located in the ancient city ,which encompasses the cathedral and the bishopric controls the outlet of the only bridge spanning the Loire, on the road between Paris and the south-west of France. The castle also had to control the other gates of the area, the Porte Saint Maur and the Porte d’Arcis. The latter being endowed with a circular tower; which will survive until the middle of the 19C, separated from the farmyard by an outer ditch spanned by a bridge, located on the main urban axis or Grande Rue leading to Chateauneuf to the west and Amboise to East ,through the Porte d’Orléans controlled by the Hugon Tower . The castle was damaged during the struggles between the French king Philip Augustus and the Plantagenets at the end of the 12C; it was intended to ensure the symbolic presence of the new power and the new form of government established in Tours.

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Saint Louis, during the regency of Blanche de Castille restores it and enlarges it in the first half or at the end of the 13C, encompassing the ancient comtal edifice of the 11C and 12C, to turn it into a strong quadrangular Royal site of 2 000 m2. In the 15C, the tower of Guise, which still remains today, sees its coronation redone with machicolations, its floor levels completed, in addition to other developments on the Logis. It was also at this time that Marie d’Anjou would have ordered the construction of a more comfortable, three-story independent building, The new castle of the king, known today as the Logis du Gouverneur , which also borrows the foundations of the Gallo-Roman compound, on the side of the Loire, in the perimeter of the castle’s lower courtyard.

The castle of Tours has its chapel , decorated, and communicates with the residential floor of the 11C, where the Aula , which is heated by 3 chimneys and illuminated by 6 windows. It is sectored, features in addition to the new logis, the farmyard of the old castle, its annexes that occupy the old outer ditch, including a large stable and a shed of coaches, of different periods, and leads into the “grande rue” (current rue Albert-Thomas) where it is necessary to pass to access the castle, through a sculpture gate, and which constitutes more than ever the main artery of the city. The master tower, which controls the entrance and the Loire, has a base in the form of Anti-aries and anti-undercuts, has archers, some of which are later fitted out for firearms and its machicolations allow vertical firing.. The castle, which was above all a royal residence of passage, except a time for Marie d’Anjou and the young dauphin is gradually abandoned by the Kings to the benefit of more hospitable residences of the Loire Valley of the Renaissance.

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On June 24, 1436, Marguerite of Scotland (11 years old) marries, in the Chapel of the castle, the son (13 years old) of King Charles VII, besides duke de Touraine, and of Marie d’Anjou, the future Louis XI of France, before the Archbishop of Reims. Louis XI will be the last king to regularly frequent the Castle of Tours without really living there. After Henry III murdered his father, Henri de Guise, head of the Catholic league,(at Blois) he had the son and his whole family locked up. The young Charles, 15, has been retained for less than 3 years in the master tower of the Château de Tours, at level 4 in the custody of 30 archers. He escaped on August 15, 1591, the day of the assumption after he went to the chapel of the castle to hear the Mass.

In the 17C, the castle of Tours is already very dilapidated. The place was the subject of various uses, as a prison (from the middle of the 15C and, simultaneously, as Arsenal (16C and 17C), to which it was adapted. In this period, the tower of Guise, which serves a time of powder magazine, benefits from major repairs in particular in 1628 and 1647, which do not prevent its general state from continuing to dégrade. The castle then serves as a deposit of begging between 1768 and 1782 and still in prison, although a project of the years 1770-1780 foreseeing the construction of a new prison on the whole of the castle’s right-of-way is finally abandoned. It served as a quarry of stones from 1780, especially for the construction of the quays of the Loire, then for the military barracks. The establishment of the army on the site from the French revolution, reinforced in the Napoleonic era, leads to keep the castle only the emblematic parts still standing and especially the construction of multiple dedicated buildings that will transform its physiognomy and later the whole place. Tours becomes a military region under Napoleon III. Several units will successively hold garrison, thus affirming the vocation of military lodging that had already partially been the castle since the mid-17C.

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Only two towers of the old castle are thus preserved,but hardly renovated. They are connected by a three-story barrack building, probably built around 1781 or near that date known today as the Mars pavilion. The latter is built at the site of the great inner courtyard of the old castle and its enclosure and backed by the ruins of the dilapidated habitable part of the said castle, around the castle thus metamorphosed, acquired by the city of Tours in 1815 for making it a great barracks the first in Tours, many buildings for barracks and stables are erected from 1816, then between 1824 and 1832, connecting among others the castle and the House of the governors,(Logis du gouveneurs) or independently. The whole barracks, which includes the remodelled castle, now connected to the house of the governors, officially takes the name of General Meusnier barracks in 1887, after having been named “de Guise” until then. And later successive from 1826 Cavalry Barracks (3rd Regiment of the Guards of honour, 9th RCT for example), then Infantry from 1845 (32nd RI for example until 1934) and for other military uses, it will last until the years 1960, before the site was returned to the city of Tours in 1968.After WWII, the castle still served as a prison under the Nazi Occupation.

What remains of the Castle of Tours, the house of the Governors included, are truly valued as historical and cultural heritage of the city only since the beginning of the 1980’s, after the archaeological excavations and the clearing of the site. In one of the corners there are in particular the bases of a ten-meters diameter tower that protrudes outside the enclosure wall. This tower that belongs to the 13C castle has replaced an older tower of the 4C the tour Cachot Secrets which can have a better idea with the Gallo-Roman tower which is preserved   adjoining the Bishopric (present Museum of Fine Arts) and the remains of the Tour du petit Cupidon, which constituted the corner of the castrum, respectively. Today there is no more than a central building (the pavilion of Mars) dating back to Louis XVI (18C), bounded by its two cylindrical towers of the 13C, which are the most authentic testimony of what was the royal castle, although the degradations and the many restorations have removed them from their primitive state: The Guise tower, embellished in the 15C, which is the only one to be complete, and the tower Cachot Secrets, of which it is now missing the high-flushed part, probably before the 17C. There is nothing left of the fourth tower that bordered the old castle Thus, the dependencies are currently occupied by the siege of the municipal police of Tours, Place des Turones, accessible from the rue Lavoisier, at the level of the former entrance of the barracks (or by the rue du maures).  All the other dependencies were destroyed. The majority of the place d’Armes is transformed into a parking lot (place des Turones) but the trees that once adorned it always decorate the places.

Now, two museums and two libraries animate the site. The main entrance (pedestrian) is on the Loire, between the castle and the Logis du Gouverneurs or House of the governors, alternatively on the other side by the cours de l’Armorial which has a parking (place des Turones). Access to these museums is free of charge, subject to the opening days..The Museum of Contemporary Art of the Château houses the services of the heritage, exhibitions and international relations of the City of Tours. The history workshop of Tours from 1985 to the House of governors (Logis du Gouverneurs).

The Urban Archaeology Library of Tours is from 1984 to the House of Governors where it was created, the “national Centre of urban archaeology of Tours” (CNAU). The study Library of the Archaeological Society of Touraine; Since 2012, the “archaeological Society of Touraine” (SAT) maintains on the ground floor of the Logis, under the responsibility of a curator-librarian, a study library where the complete collection of its publications is accessible from 1842, who are authoritative in the discipline, and 12 000 specialized books covering prehistory with modern archaeological and heritage history, from Tours to the confines of the Touraine old region.

The city of Tours on the castlehttps://www.tours.fr/services-infos-pratiques/139-chateau.htm 

The Touraine Loire Valley local tourist office on the castlehttps://www.touraineloirevalley.com/patrimoine-culturel/chateau-de-tours-tours/

The Château de Tours on museumshttps://chateau.tours.fr/

The local Loire Valley tourist office on Tourshttps://www.loirevalley-france.co.uk/outings/city-visits/tours-ville-dart-et-dhistoire-heart-loire-valley

There you go folks, another nice thing to see in wonderful Tours ,a city to be visit and revisit. It is a nice castle to see next to the Loire river and very interesting museums. Hope you enjoy the history, one reason I love to travel.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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2 Comments to “The Château de Tours !!!”

  1. Very sturdy old building

    Liked by 1 person

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