Castles in Occitanie

Château de Portes

The Château de Portes overlooks the Regordane, an ancient avenue used by the pilgrims of Saint-Giles and the Croisés on their way towards the Holy Land for a distance of ten miles. The Anduze, Randon and Polignac families paid homage to the abbot of Saint-Pierre-de-Sauve for this castle between the 11th and the 14th centuries.  Raymond Guillaume de Budos, the nephew of Pope Clement V, bought the seigniory in 1322, and ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Portes, France

Château de Luc

The Château de Luc was built in the 12th century on a previous Celtic site. The castle, as a strategic point between the two provinces of Gévaudan and Vivarais, guarded a link to the south of France of the Auvergne frequently used by pilgrims of Saint Gilles, also known as the Regordane Way, on which it was a toll-gate. For the first 100 years or so of its existence it was the home of the Luc family. In the 1 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Luc, France

Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne

Since the pre-Roman period, a fortified settlement has existed on the hill where Carcassonne now stands. In its present form it is an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town, with its massive defences encircling the castle and the surrounding buildings, its streets and its fine Gothic cathedral. Carcassonne is also of exceptional importance because of the lengthy restoration campaign undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc, ...
Founded: 333 AD | Location: Carcassonne, France

Cháteau Comtal

The Château Comtal (Count’s Castle) is a medieval castle within the Cité of Carcassonne, the largest city in Europe with its city walls still intact. The Château Comtal has a strong claim to be called a 'Cathar Castle'. When the Catholic Crusader army arrived in 1209 they first attacked Raymond-Roger Trencavel"s castrum at Bèziers and then moved on to his main stronghold at C ...
Founded: c. 1130 | Location: Carcassonne, France

Château d'Agel

Château d"Agel was first mentioned in 1100. In the early 12th century the area was rocked by the scandal of the Cathar Wars or Albigensian Crusade. A local form of Christianity was becoming ever more popular and according to some had already become the majority religion of the area. The Catholic Church regarded it as both a heresy and a threat. The 'heresy' was strongest in the county of Toulouse and ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Agel, France

Château d'Onet

Château d"Onet was built in 1518-1519 for the canons of Rodez, who used it as summer residence. The history of original castle dates back to the 13th century. The furniture of castle was seized during the French Revolution in 1792.
Founded: 1518-1519 | Location: Onet-le-Château, France

Château de Canet-en-Roussillon

Château de Canet-en-Roussillon was the castle of viscounts mentioned first time in the mid-11th century. Some parts of the original castle still remains, like the St. Martin"s chapel. The castle has been remodelled several times and it was finally abandoned after the French Revolution (it was then used as a stone quarry).
Founded: 11th century | Location: Canet-en-Roussillon, France

Fort Saint-André

The treaty of Meaux-Paris, signed in 1229 at the end of the Albigensian Crusade, handed the French crown land to the west of the Rhone from Pont-Saint-Esprit to the Mediterranean and a joint interest in the city of Avignon. In 1290 the French king, Philip IV, ceded his claim to Avignon to his father"s cousin, Charles II of Naples who was the Count of Provence through his marriage to Beatrice of Provence. The Benedic ...
Founded: | Location: Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, France

Château de Saint-Saturnin

Château de Saint-Saturnin is composed of three round towers and a one square tower. The oldest record is related to Crown in the 13th century. The castle was expanded in the 17th century, but gradually abandoned after the French Revolution.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Saint-Saturnin, France

Château de Lagarde

The Château de Lagarde is a ruined castle situated near the village of Lagarde. The first documented mention of Lagarde is from the 10th century. The first castle was a square tower with, in the corner, a circular covering tower, built in the 11th century. In the 12th century, four square towers were added as well as a rectangular gatehouse, the whole castle being linked by walls with arrowslits and crenellations. ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Lagarde, France

Château de Foix

The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control ac ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Foix, France

Château de Termes

The Château de Termes is one of the so-called Cathar castles. Built on a promontory, defended on three sides by formidable deep ravines, the crumbling ruins of the castle cover an area of 16 000m². Held by the Cathar heretic Ramon (Raymond) de Termes, the castle only fell to Simon de Montfort after a siege lasting four months, from August to November 1210, the hardest siege of the first period of the Albigensia ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Termes, France

Château de Beaucaire

The Château de Beaucaire is a ruined castle in the commune of Beaucaire. Existing structures date from the 12th and 16th centuries, with other elements from various times in the Middle Ages. First built in the 11th century, the castle was torn down on Richelieu"s orders. It used to be protected by a wall, the trace of which can still be followed. It includes a strange polygonal tower perched on a rocky spur, t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Beaucaire, France

Château de Brousse

Château de Brousse is large medieval fortress. It belonged to the Arpajon noble family from 1204 until 1700. The first known owners were counts of Rouergue in the 10th century. Today the castle is open to visitors. Among the beautiful fortifications there is a landscaped rose garden and an prehistoric megalith dating from around 3rd millenium BC.
Founded: 10th century | Location: Brousse-le-Château, France

Château de Boissières

Château de Boissières was built around 1577. It was remodeled in the  18th century.
Founded: 1577 | Location: Boissières, France

Château d'Arques

The Château d"Arques is one of the so-called Cathar castles. In the 12th century, there was a conflict between the viscount of Carcassonne and several seigneurs, including Arques and Lagrasse. The estates at Arques became the property of the seigneurs of Termes. In 1231, after the defeat of the Château de Termes during the Albigensian Crusade, Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, attacked Arques. Af ...
Founded: 1284 | Location: Arques, France

Château d'Estaing

Château d"Estaing was built built around the medieval square keep in the 15th-17th centuries. The original chapel was built in the 15th century. The castle was the traditional home for counts of Estaing until 1794.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Estaing, France

Château de Najac

Château de Najac was built in 1253 by the villagers on the orders of Alphonse de Poitiers, brother of king Louis IX of France. It was erected on the site of an older castle (a square tower) built in 1100. The inner bailey of the castle forms a rough rectangle, with the longest side about 40 meters long. Towers project from the South and North walls, and there are towers at each corner, including an earlier square t ...
Founded: 1253 | Location: Najac, France

Tour Philippe-le-Bel

Tour Philippe-le-Bel is a medieval tower in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon which marked the French terminus of the Saint-Bénézet Bridge across the Rhone between the Kingdom of France and Papal territory of Avignon. It is named after the French king Philippe-le-Bel (Philip IV 'the Fair') who was responsible for its construction. A tower with only two storeys was completed in 1302. In spite of protes ...
Founded: 1302 | Location: Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, France

Château de Sommières

Château de Sommières was probably built in the 10th or 11th century by the Bermond noble family. The castle consisted of two towers: Bermonde and Montlaur, dating back to the 13th century. Only Bermonde tower is intact, Montlaur tower was partially destroyed during the siege of the city in 1573 and later demolished.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Sommières, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.