Chateaux of Var

Château d'Hyères

Château d"Hyères was one of the largest castles in Provence. The first mention of the castle dates from 1062. In 1524 and in 1536 the royal armies swept over Provence and Hyères castle was also besieged and conquered. It was reorganised by Charles I of Anjou in 1527 and ultimately dismantled by Louis XIII in a gesture of authority following the destructive religious wars. The castle has been labelled Histo ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Hyères, France

Château d'Entrecasteaux

Château d'Entrecasteaux was originally built in the 11th century, but rebuilt later in the 15th, 16th and 18th centuries. In 1974, after several decades of abandonment, the castle was restored by the British painter Hugh Ian Macgarvie-Munn who turned the castle into a museum.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Entrecasteaux, France

Château De Bargème

The castle in small village of Bargème was constructed in the 13th century. During the Wars of religion it was in hands of Jean-Basptiste de Pontevès, Lord of Callas (1505-1579). In April 1579, the inhabitants of Callas, assisted by a resident named Jacques Sossy, a lieutenant of a Huguenot branch, broke into the castle and killed Pierre de Pontevès, then imprisoned Jean-Baptiste de Pontevès, his wife and his son B ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bargème, France

Château d'Aiguines

Château d"Aiguines was built by the Templars at the request of the Bishop of Riez in the 12th century. It was again rebuilt by Balthazar de Gauthier, local lord from 1596 to 1641. Today castle is privately owned.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Aiguines, France

Château de Vins

Château de Vins was built by Saint Marc Jaumegarde, member of the Garde noble family in the early 16th century. The abandoned castle was restored since 1960.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Vins-sur-Caramy, France

Fort de Brégançon

Perched on a rocky outcrop, this islet had been inhabited since the 2nd century AD. The fortified castle, built in the Merovingian period, and the estate was to have countless occupants before coming under state ownership during the French Revolution. The fort was built in the 13th century and was used for military purposes for most of its life, belonging to a variety of noble families as they fell in and out of power th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bormes-les-Mimosas, France

Château de La Colle Noire

The Château de La Colle Noire is built on a promontory overlooking the plains of Montauroux. The chateau is surrounded by a park with a chapel dedicated to St Anne. The ensemble dates from the middle of the 19th century and was entirely redesigned by Christian Dior from 1950. It has been the property of Parfums Christian Dior since 2013.
Founded: 1826 | Location: Montauroux, France

Château de Pontevès

The Château de Pontevès site is first recorded in a document in 1021 as the property of the monastery of Saint-Victoir in Marseille. Later, the lords of Pontevès progressively developed the site. In 1233 there is mention of a gate to the courtyard and the buildings arranged in the U-shape characteristic of the early 13th century. Further additions between 1560 and 1580 included a new bedroom, a great hall and the no ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Pontevès, France

Château de Saint-Sauveur

On a wooded hilltop just southeast of Rocbaron village are the ruins of Château de Saint-Sauveur. A short hike up from the village visits the ruins and gives you a magnificent view across the land. About 10 minutes up the trail are the ruins of the ancient chapel. Really just the stone walls of the old building sitting in the trees at the edge of a small clearing. Interesting, but the real ruins are another 10-15 minute ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Rocbaron, France

Château de Taurenne

The Château de Taurenne is steeped in history. The castle, founded in the eleventh century, is magnificent and imposing with its 5 round towers. It is the center of an area of 253 hectares located between Aups and Tourtour. The estate has 8500 olive trees.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Aups, 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.