Castles in Occitanie

Château de Montségur

The Château de Montségur ruins are the site of a razed stronghold of the Cathars. The present fortress on the site is actually of a later period. The earliest signs of human settlement in the area date back to the stone age, around 80,000 years ago. Evidence of Roman occupation such as Roman currency and tools have also been found in and around the site. Its name comes from Latin mons securus, which evolved into mont s ...
Founded: 1204 | Location: Montségur, 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 Larressingle

Château de Larressingle was built in the second half of the 13th century. The second and third floors were added by Arnaud Orthon de Lomagne, Bishop of Condom, between 1285 and 1305. Windows were added at various times in the 15th and 16th centuries, particularly between 1521 and 1545 when extra works were carried out for Monseigneur de Grossolles, including the construction of a hexagonal tower.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Larressingle, France

Fort Libéria

Built by Vauban in 1681 and fortified by Napoleon III, the Libéria fortress dominates the city with its ramparts, counterscarp galleries, bastions, chapel, archaeology and caving museum and a 734 steps underground staircase.
Founded: 1681 | Location: Villefranche de Conflent, 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

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 protests from the Count of Provenc ...
Founded: 1302 | Location: Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, France

Château de Puilaurens

The Château de Puilaurens is one of the so-called Cathar castles. The castle stands on a spur of rock above the Boulzane Valley and the villages of Lapradelle and Puilaurens. There is a path from Axat to the castle. The castle here had belonged to the Abbey of Saint-Michel de Cuxa before it was acquired by the Queen of Aragon in 1162. As Aragonese property it was outside the territory ravaged by the Crusaders durin ...
Founded: 1229 | Location: Puilaurens, France

Château de Lussan

Château de Lussan is square castle with substantial towers at each corner and was built here in the 15th century for the Lords of Audibert. There is a large clock and iron campanile on one of the towers which was added in the 19th century. The castle was in private ownership until it was seized during the Revolution: since that time the castle has had several different owners and uses and is now used for local council of ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Lussan, 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 de Bournazel

Château de Bournazel was built in the mid-16th century by Jean de Buisson. He replaced the older castle with Renaissance style residence. Today the gardens are added to the List of Remarkable Gardens of France.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Bournazel, France

Fort de Bellegarde

Le Perthus became French territory after the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659). The Spanish captured Bellegarde in 1674 and began work on new fortifications in 1675. These were not very far advanced when the place was recaptured by the French. In 1678 Vauban designed for Bellegarde a strong pentagonal fort with a detached hornwork extending southwards towards the frontier. The defences consist of a five bastioned trace, with ...
Founded: 1675 | Location: Le Perthus, France

Château de Villerouge-Termenès

The first historical data concerning the site of Château de Villerouge-Termenès dates from the 12th century. At that time and until the French Revolution, Narbonne"s powerful archbishops were the lords of the castle and village of Villerouge- Termenès. Even so, the castle was much coveted and occupied several times. Indeed, in 1107, Pope Pascal II had to confirm the Archbishop Richard as rightful ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Villerouge-Termenès, France

Château de Florac

The Château de Florac was originally built in the 13th century and then rebuilt in the 17th century. It originally belonged to the Barony of Anduze and passed through a number of feudal families. The castle was entirely rebuilt in 1652 after the Wars of Religion. During the French Revolution, the castle was turned into a 'salt loft' for storing salt. It was then used as a prison in the 19th century. Since ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Florac, France

Château de Castries

Château de Castries has belonged to the House of Castries since 1465. In 1565, Jacques de Castries undertook the building of a new château. The garden was laid out by André Le Nôtre in 1666. The aqueduct, to water the garden, was built by Pierre-Paul Riquet. The main house was looted and damaged during the French Revolution of 1789 and was restored in 1828. In 1935, it was bought back by René de La Croix de Castries ...
Founded: 1565 | Location: Castries, France

Château de Quillan

Château de Quillan was first mentioned in 1125. There had been a fort built by Visigoths already in 781 AD. The castle was conquered by the Royal army of France in 1210 during the Albigensian Crusades. The castle got its current appearance in restorations of 1232 and 1341. Since then Quillan castle has been damaged in wars by Spanish Armies and Huguenots (1575).  Since the 18th century Château de Quillan was left to ...
Founded: 1232 | Location: Quillan, France

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 Flamarens

A castrum is mentioned on the site of Château de Flamarens in 1289, and is believed to have been remodelled in the 14th century. Additional building work and alterations were made some time between 1469 and about 1475 by Jean de Cazanove for Jean de Grosolles. The northern part was built before 1536 by Georges Dauzières for Arnaud de Grossolles. Alterations were made to the windows and interior decoration in the 18th ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Flamarens, France

Château d'Aumelas

Château d'Aumelas was mentioned first time in 1036. From to 1213 1350, Aumelas fell to the Kings of Majorca and finally to the possession of King of France. The castle was ruined in the 16th century after it was dismantled and damaged in the Wars of Religion.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Aumelas, France

Château de Saissac

The Château de Saissac is a ruined castle, one of the so-called Cathar castles. It was once the residence of the powerful vassal family of Trencavel. The castle dominates the rocky headland and the ravine of Vernassonne, at an important strategic position at the entry of the Montagne noire. Based on historical texts, it can be dated to at least 960. It was bequeathed by the bishop of Toulouse to the Count of Carcassonne ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Saissac, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.