Cathar castles

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 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 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 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 i ...
Founded: 1204 | Location: Montségur, 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 Pieusse

The Château de Pieusse is one of the so-called Cathar castles. It is a 'true' Cathar castle in the sense that the site was never taken by the French crown during the annexation of Roussillon, but the buildings are mostly of more recent date. It is characterised by a keep, massive for the time, whose use was essentially defensive. The castle is currently private property and not open to the public. The cas ...
Founded: 1140-1145 | Location: Pieusse, 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 ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mazamet, France

Château du Bezu

Château du Bezu, also called Les Tiplies, was a Cathar castle located on a hill top near to the village of Le Bézu. In the popular imagination Le Bézu is an old Templar fortress, from where the Templars treasure was rescued when they were persecuted by the French King Philip le Bel in 1307. There is very little evidende that it was ever a Templar fortress, but plenty that it was a Cathar stronghold at ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Le Bézu, France

Château de Puivert

The Château de Puivert is a so-called Cathar castle on top of a hill overhanging the village and lake. The construction of the present chateau dates from the 13th century. The first mention is in 1170 when it belonged to the Congost family before the Albigensian Crusade. These lords practised Catharism and were accused as heretics. Then, in November 1210, the castle was subjected for three days to a siege by the arm ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Puivert, 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 Carcas ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Saissac, France

Château de Peyrepertuse

Château de Peyrepertuse is a ruined fortress and one of the so-called Cathar castles located high in the French Pyrénées in the commune of Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse. The view of the castle from Duilhac (to the south) is impressive thanks to the 30 to 40 meter cliff on which the Castle is perched. The main entrance is located on the north side, but in the time of the Cathars, a secret passage through a ...
Founded: 806 AD | Location: Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, 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

Lastours Castles

The Châteaux de Lastours are four so-called Cathar castles on a rocky spur above the village of Lastours, isolated by the deep valleys of the Orbeil and Grésilhou rivers. These four castles constitute a single entity, even though they are not a single structure. The natural layout of the site permitted the economy of a fortress of great height. Plans were adapted to the rocks on which they were built. The con ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Lastours, France

Château de Miglos

Dependent on the counts of Foix, the chateau at Miglos is mentioned in 1213, at the time of the inventory of the strongholds given back to the king of France. Miglos was a place of passage and of residence for numerous Cathar Perfects and believers.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Miglos, France

Château de Coustaussa

The original Château de Coustaussa was built by the Trencavels, Viscounts of the Razès, in the 12th century. It was the stronghold of Cathars until Simon de Montfort and his Crusaders conquered it during the Albigensian Crusade. After the Crusades, the Castle came into the possession of the de Montesquieu family. The present Château was apparently still in good shape until the 19th century, when an ente ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Coustaussa, 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 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

Château d'Usson

The Château d"Usson is one of the so-called Cathar castles located in the commune of Rouze. It is sited upstream from Axat, along the Aude River gorge, carved out of the foothills of the Pyrenees. The castle dates from the 11th century (perhaps earlier) and during the Cathar period marked the eastern boundary of the territories of the Counts of Foix. In the 12th century, this was the capital of the Doné ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Rouze, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Historic Village of Olargues

Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.

The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.