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 owner of Villerouge, ...
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

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.