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

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

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 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 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.