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Loire Valley: medieval castles, gardens and troglodytes

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Loire Valley: medieval castles, gardens and troglodytes

In the very heart of France there is an area of amazing beauty and significance, which concentrated almost the majority of the country's architectural monuments on its open spaces. It is no coincidence that the Loire Valley is considered an open-air museum: the cities located here, ancient abbeys, castles, vast vineyards and cascading gardens have almost completely retained their original appearance and allow not only to admire the beautiful buildings and enchanting views, but also imagine how France looked like many centuries ago.

The historical development of the region

The first settlements found on the banks of the Loire, archaeologists date back to the Paleolithic era - this area until the XIV century was inhabited mainly by farmers and fishermen. During the Hundred Years War and the claims of the Plantagenet dynasty on French lands in the Loire Valley, which saw a significant part of the battles, defensive structures began to appear, castles and observation towers were actively built, cities were strengthened, and the walls and churches of the abbey were impregnated. After the war ended in 1453, it became clear that the formerly deeply provincial region had acquired new features, roads and infrastructure appeared. This did not pass by the attention of the French kings, and since the 15th century the Crown has given the nobility permission to buy land along the Loire and its tributaries and to erect residences.

The first castles had pronounced Gothic features and abounded with exquisite carvings around the perimeter of lancet windows, all kinds of turrets and spiers. Trends are gradually changing, a real construction boom begins, inspired by the luxury of the best examples of the Italian Renaissance seen in the military campaigns that the Crown led at that time. Francis I invites Leonardo da Vinci, famous architects, carvers, engineers, to France. Today, traveling along the Loire, you can trace the history of world fortification and castle construction.

The most famous castles of the Loire Valley

Castles located along the Loire and its tributaries in the administrative districts of Centre and the Loire Lands are combined into one tourist attraction, some of them taken under the patronage of UNESCO. The most significant include:

  • Blois
  • Chambord
  • Amboise
  • Lange
  • Chenonceau
  • Angers
  • Mongeffroy
  • Chaumont
  • Clo luce
  • Chateauden
  • Aze le Rideau
  • Saumur.

There are about a hundred architectural objects in the valley, it is customary to include not only castles and palaces, but also some other buildings belonging to aristocratic families that have historical and cultural significance.

What to visit in the Loire Valley?

In addition to castles and palaces, on the banks of the Loire, there are other attractions of undoubted interest:

  • historical performances in the Puy du Fou Park and Theater, which received the Gold Medal in 2014 as the best theme park in the world
  • Gardens of Love in Villandry
  • exhibition hall in Angers, where priceless trellis created based on the "Revelations" of John the Theologian
  • burial place of Leonardo da Vinci in Amboise
  • square in Tours with well-preserved half-timbered houses and the ancient St. Gatien's Cathedral of Tours
  • carousel and car gallery in Nantes
  • Sancer cave and much more.

The special charm of the trip will be added by a rented bike or an overnight stay in one of the castles in real royal chambers.

Miraculous castles of troglodytes in the Loire Valley

Limestone for the construction of fortresses and palaces was mined nearby, in the rocks off the coast of the tributary of the Loire Cher. The resulting voids and gaps quickly found application: in them it was possible to escape from the heat, store wine, make caches. Gradually, these caves turned into living quarters, a facade was attached to them, and the rooms in the required quantity were simply cut down in soft rock. During wars and revolutions, rock palaces gave shelter to residents of the neighboring towns of Angers and Saumur, and now you can see restaurants, hotels and private estates in them. These attractions are part of the troglodyte valley tourist route.

The object belongs to the regions.

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