Castles in Occitanie

Château de Castelbouc

Château de Castelbouc lies in the small village of Castelbouc on an beautiful rock spur. The castle was first mentioned in the 12th century, when it was owned by Etienne de Castelbouc. In 1592 the castle was razed during the Wars of Religion.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sainte-Enimie, France

Château de Laréole

Château de Laréole was built in 1579 by Pierre de Cheverry, a son of a great pastel merchant. The construction of the castle lasted three years and the Cheverry family kept the castle until 1707. After the Great Revolution, the castle changes hands several times before it was abandoned in1922. In 1984 the General Council of Haute-Garonne bought the property and restored it. Today the site is open to the public and ...
Founded: 1579 | Location: Laréole, 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

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 Peyrelade

The Château de Peyrelade name is derived from the occitan 'Pèira Lada', meaning wide rock; an accurate description of the site. Objects found on the site suggest it was inhabited in prehistoric times. Thanks to its position controlling the entrance to the Gorges du Tarn, it was one of the most important castles in the Rouergue province. It existed at least as far back as the 12th century, and was the s ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rivière-sur-Tarn, France

Château de Saint-Félix-Lauragais

Château de Saint-Félix-Lauragais was originally constructed in the 11th century. The first Synod of the Cathar church, known as the Council of Saint-Félix was held there in 1167. In the 14th century, the castle was transformed into a country house by a brother of Pope John XXII. The complex includes buildings from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Saint-Félix-Lauragais, France

Château d'Aguilar

The Château d'Aguilar is one of the so-called Cathar castles. The design of the castle witnesses the practical military thinking of the 12th century. The castle consists of an inner keep built in the 12th century, surrounded by an outer pentagonal fortification from the 13th century. This fortification is oriented such that its point guards the side most favourable to attackers. The keep and the inner hexagonal fortifica ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tuchan, France

Château de Mauvezin

Château de Mauvezin, occupied since protohistory, was transformed into a castrum in the Middle Ages and later into a castle. The castle was built by Gaston Fébus (also Phoebus) around 1380. Following the merging of Bigorre into the Kingdom of France in 1607, it fell into disuse and was dismantled piece by piece, its stones being used for other buildings. Today the castle is being restored and houses a historical ...
Founded: 1380 | Location: Mauvezin, France

Château de Hautpoul

The original castle in n a rocky spur was supposedly built in 413 by the Visigoths on the side of a mountain, defended by almost inaccessible cliffs. This fortress controlled the Arnette and the Thoré valleys, overlooking the plain where the town of Mazamet now stands. Pierre-Raymond de Hautpoul is the first known lord of Hautpoul (mentioned in 1084). He rebuilt the castle, constructed the town walls and built the forti ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mazamet, France

Château de Pibrac

Château de Pibrac was built in 1540 to the site of older castle. It was damaged during the Revolution in 1794 and restored in 1887. The renaissance style residence is built of red brick. The castle itself consists of an old body and wings. The north wing is flanked by a round tower with terrace and has a staircase. The castle park, open to the public, was designed by the landscape architect Eugène Bühler in 1897.
Founded: 1540 | Location: Pibrac, France

Château de Lordat

Château de Lordat castle dates back to the 9th and 10th centuries (mentioned first time in 970 AD). Around 1244 it was occupied by the Cathars during the crusade against the Albigensians. Lordat family abandoned the castle at the time of religious wars of France. Dismantled by the order of Henry IV in 1582, the castle fell gradually in ruins. The entrance is protected by a square tower which still has its original a ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Lordat, France

Château de Roquefixade

The Château de Roquefixade is a ruined castle built on a cliff overlooking the village of Roquefixade. There are records of a castle on the site going back to 1180, though the present ruins are more modern. While marketed in the tourist industry as one of the so-called Cathar castles, the ruins are later than this. Despite this, the site did provide a place of refuge for the Cathars at the time of the Albigensian Cr ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Roquefixade, France

Château de Saint-Élix-le-Château

Château de Saint-Élix-le-Château was built between 1540 and 1548 at the request of the Pierre Potier Terrace, secretary and notary of king Frans I. Its architecture combines details of medieval and Renaissance style.
Founded: 1540-1548 | Location: Saint-Élix-le-Château, France

Château du Bousquet

Château du Bousquet was built in the 14th century. Today it hosts a museum of ancient art from the Middle Ages to the present day. The castle has very well-preserved sample of late medieval architecture (furnished interior, furniture, objects, paintings).
Founded: 14th century | Location: Montpeyroux, France

Château de La Caze

Château de La Caze was built in the 15th century by Soubeyrane Alamand and Guillaume de Montclar. During the French Revolution it was used as a prison. Today it is a luxury hotel.
Founded: 1420 | Location: Sainte-Enimie, 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 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 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 Sainte Marie

Château Sainte Marie dates from the tenth century. Built by the Counts of Bigorre it fell under the English rule in the 14th century but was be quickly reconquered by the inhabitants. Free access is on foot, by an easy path, from the village of Esterre.
Founded: 10th century | Location: Esterre, France

Château de Roquessels

The Château de Roquessels was built in the 10th century. It was a dependency of the convent of Cassans, which collected tithes from the baron of Margon. In 1247, the inhabitants of the village, like all subjects of the Trencavels, viscount of Béziers, were released from their pledge of allegiance and submitted to the King of France. The castle resisted valiantly the assaults of Simon de Montfort"s army. Today, the ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Roquessels, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.