Chateaux of Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Château de Pau

The Château de Pau dominates the center of the city Pau. Henry IV of France and Navarre was born here on December 13, 1553 and it was once used by Napoleon as a holiday home during his period of power. Pau Castle was founded in the Middle Ages. Work before any military, is a castle typically built on top of the hill overlooking the Gave bounded by ravine Hédas. In the twelfth century Gaston IV of Béarn ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pau, France

Château-Vieux

The Château-Vieux ('Old castle') in Bayonne is built on the site of an ancient Roman castrum which housed the garrison and administration of the region. From the end of the 11th century the viscounts of Labourd built the fortress based on three existing Roman towers strengthened. The castle was refortified in the 17th century by Vauban plans.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bayonne, France

Château-Neuf

Sitting in the highest point of Petit Bayonne you will find the  Château-Neuf (“new castle”) built in the 15th century by Charles IV. This massive building now belongs to the university and is unfortunately closed to the public.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bayonne, France

Fort de Socoa

Fort Socoa in Ciboure was originally built under the rule of Henry IV to protect the region from the Spanish. Fort Socoa today was however built later under the reign of Louis XIII. In 1636, the Spanish army took the fort. A few years later, French sovereignty was restored. In 1686, Vauban strenghtened the Fort and planned to build a pier to improve access to the Fort. The work of the fort was ended in 1698. The site ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Ciboure, France

Château d'Abbadie

Château d"Abbadie is a château in Hendaye. Built between 1864 and 1879, it was designed in the neo-Gothic style by E. Viollet-le-Duc and incorporated many enigmatic features characteristic of its owner, the explorer Antoine Thomson d"Abbadie.
Founded: 1864-1879 | Location: Hendaye, France

Château de Morlanne

This imposing brick castle Château de Morlanne, forming a polygonal enceinte, is a powerful 14th century structure with gateways, a courtyard, moats and a high keep. Inside is a manor house dating from the end of the 16th century. The castle, standing on a motte at the southern end of the village, was built about 1370 by the architect Sicard de Lordat for Arnaud-Guilhem, the brother of Gaston Fébus (Gaston III ...
Founded: 1370 | Location: Morlanne, France

Château de Bellocq

Château de Bellocq dates from the end of the 13th century and consists of an irregular quadrilateral reinforced by seven towers, linked to the fortified house built in 1281. It was remodelled during the 14th century. The castle was burned down by Louis XIII in 1620 to prevent it being used by Protestants. At the end of the 13th century, Bellocq was at the frontier with English controlled Guyenne. Gaston VII Moncade ...
Founded: 1281 | Location: Bellocq, France

Château de Gramont

Château de Gramont was first mentioned in 1329, belonging to the lords of Gramont. The medieval castle was destroyed in 1523 by the troops of Charles V of Spain and reuilt later with Renaissance additions. The gardens and terraces date from the 17th century. In 1793 , the castle and its outbuildings were confiscated to the Nation and a military hospital was installed there for a few months. The building was empty whe ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bidache, France

Château d'Urtubie

Château d"Urtubie still belongs to the same family since its construction in 1341. Additions and improvements were carried out in the 16th and 18th centuries and the castle is today a historic monument, furnished and decorated with refinement . The stones of Urtubie tell six centuries of history of the Basque Country . King Louis XI sejourned in the castle in 1463 and Louis XIV raised the domain to the status of vi ...
Founded: 1341 | Location: Urrugne, France

Château de Mauléon

Château de Mauléon was first built in the 11th century. The wooden building was replaced in the 13th century by the strongest castle of area in a strategic location on the road to Spain. Later it was conquered by English army. In 1642 the castle is demolished by order of Louis XIII. In 1648 a partial reconstruction was organized but the castle was finally left abandoned. During the French Revolution it was a pris ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mauléon-Licharre, France

Château de Belzunce

The Château de Belzunce is a ruined castle in the commune of Ayherre. Its construction dates from the 13th, 14th and 16th centuries The castle has a trapezoidal plan flanked by four towers, representing two periods of construction, the Middle Ages and the 16th century. During the 16th century, it was redeveloped and finally ruined. During the French Revolution, it was sold as national property. It appears to have b ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ayherre, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.