Castles in Occitanie

Duchy of Uzès Castle

The Duchy of Uzès castle is built on an old Roman Castrum (camp) which became the residence of the Governor in the first millennium. The architecture of the Duke"s chateau, named the Duchy is a potted history of France. The Middle-Ages, the Renaissance, the 17th century, and modern times are all there. Despite this, the ensemble is pleasing to the eye. During the difficult times of the Revolution the building ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Uzès, France

Château des Guilhem

The Château des Guilhem was built for the Guilhems, lords of Clermont-l’Hérault, at the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th centuries. The castle stands on Puech Castel hill, overlooking the town and surrounding country. The strategic site permitted control of the Hérault valley and the road to Bédarieux and the higher cantons, as well as the feudal town which was itself fortified so ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Clermont-l'Hérault, France

Château de Quéribus

Château de Quéribus is a ruined castle in the commune of Cucugnan. It is one of the 'Five Sons of Carcassonne', along with Aguilar, Peyrepertuse, Termes and Puilaurens: five castles strategically placed to defend the French border against the Spanish, until the border was moved in 1659. Quéribus was first time mentioned in 1021 when it was one of the main Barcelonan strongholds north of the Pyrenees. ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Cucugnan, France

Château de Cajarc

Château de Cajarc, built in the 13th and 15th centuries, is an well-preserved example of mediaeval fortification. Especially noteworthy are the roofs, the round tower and its staircase and the inner courtyard and its walls. On the second floor, a vaulted room contains 17th-century paintings.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Salvagnac-Cajarc, France

Salses Fortress

Forteresse de Salses was built between 1497 and 1504, at the order of Ferdinand II of Aragon. It was designed by engineer Francisco Ramiro Lopez, the king’s commander and artillery master, to block access to France from Roussillon. It was originally destined to replace a previous château, from which the town takes its name (Salses-le-Château). The earliest records of this château, situated on a nei ...
Founded: 1497-1504 | Location: Salses-le-Château, France

Château d'Allègre

Château d"Allègre was first time mentioned in 1163. Today it lies in ruins.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Allègre-les-Fumades, 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 Durfort

Château de Durfort was erected on a rocky piton which overlooks the valley of the Orbieu. The present ruins are those of a strengthened habitat, including a chapel, dwellings with rectangular windows and a tower. High thick walls, cellars and wells, arched rooms of square buildings, corner turrets, watch towers and a main tower are still visible. There is no documentary evidence for the initial construction of this fort ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Vignevieille, 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

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 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

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 Fressac

Château de Fressac was built probably in the early 13th century. According a legend, it was visited by Blanche of Castile, the mother of king Louis IX of France. In the 18th century Fressac was a refuge place during the wars of Camisards. Today it lies in ruins.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fressac, France

Château du Tournel

Château du Tournel is the former seat of the Barons of Tournel, one of the eight baronies of Gévaudan. The castle is sited on a rocky outcrop which dominates the upper valley of the Lot. It is in a strategic position, taking into account the possessions of the Tournel family. From its towers, one can see Mont Lozère, the highest point in the region. Before the 13th century, the Tournel family regarded themselves ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Saint-Julien-du-Tournel, France

Château de Castanet

Château de Castanet was built in the 16th century in Pourcharesses near Villefort. The territory of Castanet has its origin in the name (chestnut) in the language Occitan. It is the most common tree in the territory. The castle is next to the lake of Villefort, an artificial lake created behind the Villefort"s dam, who went bankrupt destroy the castle. The castle was built in 1578 by Jacques Isarn, a noble of Ville ...
Founded: 1578 | Location: Pourcharesses, France

Mas de Las Fons

Mas de Las Fons castle was built from the 12th to 15th centuries. The Romanesque chapel dates from the 12th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Calce, France

Château de Padern

The Château de Padern was built overlooking the village of Padern on a limestone peak that dominates the Verdouble river running past the village. The paths to reach it are very steep, which made it practically impregnable. The castle is little known in the area, because it did not play a very important part during the crusade against the Albigensians, unlike the neighbouring castles of Termes, Queribus or Peyrepertuse. ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Padern, France

Château de Montaigut

The first traces of the Château de Montaigut date from the 10th century. Built on a rocky outcrop dominating the valley of the Dourdou de Camarès river, it defended the town of Saint-Affrique against attacks from the south. Enlarged and transformed in the 15th century by the Blanc family, it was restored several times before falling into ruin. The castle was finally restored in 1989. The castle is built over a medie ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Gissac, France

Château de Loupiac

Château de Loupiac was built in the 13th century. It is flanked with four round towers. The castle played an important role during the wars of Religion where it was caught and taken over by both sides. It was also conquered during the Revolution and burned down. Today it is privately owned.w
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lapanouse, France

Château La Commanderie

Château La Commanderie in Plaigne is one of the rare Cathar castles still inhabited. La Commanderie was built in the 12th century by Guillaume de Plaigne, a Cathar Lord, who took an active role in the massacre of Avignonet and afterwards joined the besieged stronghold as a member of the garrison, along with his brother, at the famous siege of Montségur. In the 16th century, Barthelemy de Plaigne extended the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Plaigne, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle de Haar

Castle de Haar is the largest and most fairytale-like castle in the Netherlands. The current buildings, all built upon the original castle, date from 1892 and are the work of Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, in a Neo-Gothic restoration project funded by the Rothschild family.

The oldest historical record of a building at the location of the current castle dates to 1391. In that year, the family De Haar received the castle and the surrounding lands as fiefdom from Hendrik van Woerden. The castle remained in the ownership of the De Haar family until 1440, when the last male heir died childless. The castle then passed to the Van Zuylen family. In 1482, the castle was burned down and the walls were torn down, except for the parts that did not have a military function. These parts probably were incorporated into the castle when it was rebuilt during the early 16th century. The castle is mentioned in an inventory of the possessions of Steven van Zuylen from 1506, and again in a list of fiefdoms in the province Utrecht from 1536. The oldest image of the castle dates to 1554 and shows that the castle had been largely rebuilt by then. After 1641, when Johan van Zuylen van der Haar died childless, the castle seems to have gradually fallen into ruins. The castle escaped from total destruction by the French during the Rampjaar 1672.

In 1801 the last catholic van Zuylen in the Netherlands, the bachelor Anton-Martinus van Zuylen van Nijevelt (1708-1801) bequeathed the property to his cousin Jean-Jacques van Zuylen van Nyevelt (1752-1846) of the catholic branch in the Southern Netherlands. In 1890, De Haar was inherited by Jean-Jacques' grandson Etienne Gustave Frédéric Baron van Zuylen van Nyevelt van de Haar (1860-1934), who married Baroness Hélène de Rothschild. They contracted architect Pierre Cuypers in 1892 to rebuild the ruinous castle, which took 15 years.

In 1887, the inheritor of the castle-ruins, Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt, married Hélène de Rothschild, of theRothschild family. Fully financed by Hélène's family, the Rothschilds, the couple set about rebuilding the castle from its ruins. For the restoration of the castle, the famous architect Pierre Cuypers was hired. He would be working on this project for 20 years (from 1892 to 1912). The castle has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, of which only a small number on the ground floor have been opened to be viewed by the public. In the hall, Cuypers has placed a statue with his own image in a corner of the gallery on the first floor.

The castle was equipped by Cuypers with the most modern gadgets, such as electrical lighting with its own generator, and central heating by way of steam. This installation is internationally recognized as an industrial monument. The kitchen was for that period also very modern and still has a large collection of copper pots and pans and an enormous furnace of approximately 6 metres long, which is heated with peat or coals. The tiles in the kitchen are decorated with the coats of arms of the families De Haar and Van Zuylen, which were for this purpose especially baked in Franeker. Cuypers marked out the difference between the old walls and the new bricks, by using a different kind of brick for the new walls. For the interior Cuypers made a lot of use of cast iron.

In the castle one can see many details which reminds one of the family De Rothschild, such as the David stars on the balconies of the knight's hall, the motto of the family on the hearth in the knight's hall (A majoribus et virtute) and the coat of arms of the family right underneath on the hearth in the library.

The interior of the castle is decorated with richly ornamented woodcarving, which reminds one of the interior of a Roman Catholic church. This carving was made in the workshop of Cuypers in Roermond. The place where later also the interiors of many Roman Catholic churches were made, designed by Cuypers. Cuypers even designed the tableware. The interior is also furnished with many works of the Rothschild collections, including beautiful old porcelain from Japan and China, and several old Flemish tapestries and paintings with religious illustrations. A showpiece is a carrier coach of the woman of a Shogun from Japan. There is only one more left in the world, which stands in a museum in Tokyo. Many Japanese tourists come to De Haar to admire exactly this coach, which was donated from the Rothschilds collections.

Surrounding the castle there is a park, designed by Hendrik Copijn, for which Van Zuylen ordered 7000 fully grown trees. Because these could not be transported through the city of Utrecht, Van Zuylen bought a house and tore it down. The park contains many waterworks and a formal garden which reminds one of the French gardens of Versailles. During the Second World War many of the gardens were lost, because the wood was used to light fires, and the soil was used to grow vegetables upon. At this time, the gardens are restored in their old splendor.

For the decoration of the park, the village Haarzuilens, except for the town church, was broken down. The inhabitants were moved to a place a kilometer further up, where a new Haarzuilens arose, where they lived as tenants of the lord of the castle. This new village was also built in a pseudo-medieval style, including a rural village green. The buildings were for the most part designed by Cuypers and his son Joseph Cuypers.