Route des Seigneurs du Rouergue

Château de Belcastel

The Château de Belcastel is situated above the north bank of the Aveyron River, downstream from Rodez. The oldest part of the castle was constructed in the 9th century, and it grew in the hands of the Belcastel family. Later, for many decades, it was the seat of the famed Saunhac family. The famous French architect Fernand Pouillon (1912-1986) discovered the castle in ruins in 1974. Pouillon decided to reconstruct the f ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Belcastel, France

Château de Sévérac

The Château de Sévérac is a 13th century castle which was restored in the 18th century. The castle site has belonged to several families: the Sévéracs, Armagnacs, and Arpajons. The latter built a Renaissance style castle whose south face can still be seen. Visitors today can see ramparts, walls, watch towers, the chapel and kitchen, in which demonstrations of medieval cooking are given. An exhibition of medieval cos ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sévérac-d'Aveyron, France

Château de Najac

Château de Najac was built in 1253 by the villagers on the orders of Alphonse de Poitiers, brother of king Louis IX of France. It was erected on the site of an older castle (a square tower) built in 1100. The inner bailey of the castle forms a rough rectangle, with the longest side about 40 meters long. Towers project from the South and North walls, and there are towers at each corner, including an earlier square t ...
Founded: 1253 | Location: Najac, France

Château de Bournazel

Château de Bournazel was built in the mid-16th century by Jean de Buisson. He replaced the older castle with Renaissance style residence. Today the gardens are added to the List of Remarkable Gardens of France.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Bournazel, 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 Brousse

Château de Brousse is large medieval fortress. It belonged to the Arpajon noble family from 1204 until 1700. The first known owners were counts of Rouergue in the 10th century. Today the castle is open to visitors. Among the beautiful fortifications there is a landscaped rose garden and an prehistoric megalith dating from around 3rd millenium BC.
Founded: 10th century | Location: Brousse-le-Château, France

Château de Saint-Izaire

The Château de Saint-Izaire is a 14th-century episcopal castle. It is maintained by an association known as Vie et Château (Life and Castle), who have created a mini museum on the premises to record the history of the castle and the inhabitants of the village of Saint-Izaire. The castle is a massive quadrangular red stone building that shelters the town hall of the village of Saint-Izaire. The structure is supported ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Saint-Izaire, France

Château de Peyrelade

The Château de Peyrelade name is derived from the occitan 'Pèira Lada', meaning wide rock; an accurate description of the site. Objects found on the site suggest it was inhabited in prehistoric times. Thanks to its position controlling the entrance to the Gorges du Tarn, it was one of the most important castles in the Rouergue province. It existed at least as far back as the 12th century, and was the s ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rivière-sur-Tarn, France

Château de Valon

Château de Valon offers a sumptuous panoramic view of the Gorges de la Truyère. Since the 12th Century, the feudal castle, built like an eagle"s nest on the rocky mound, has dominated the Gorges de la Truyère. This mediaeval site is classed as one of the most picturesque in the Aveyron. Traditional schist stone houses with lauze covered roofs overlook two magnificent valleys. The château is reputed for the tales ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lacroix-Barrez, France

Château du Colombier

The square tower is the oldest part of the Château du Colombier but the exact date of construction is unknown. It was enlarged during the 13th and 14th centuries. In 2001-2002, the opening of the Hall of Frescos completed the tour of the chateau and allowed visitors to experience the refinement of its Renaissance decoration (XVI century)
Founded: 13th century | Location: Salles-la-Source, France

Château de Calmont d'Olt

The Château de Calmont d"Olt is perched atop a basalt dyke. It provides a panoramic view of the Aubrac highlands. Flint fragments and a polished stone axe are evidence of occupation of the site for 5,000 years. The ministerium Calvomantese was first mentioned in 883, in documents from the Abbey at Conques. It has always had a military significance, commanding the road from Rodez to Aubrac and, more widely ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Espalion, France

Château de Peyrebrune

Château de Peyrebrune was the residence of Panat lords from the 11th to 15th centuries. The tower dates from the 15th century. In the 17th century the castle was demolished to punish Calvinist leaders.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Alrance, France

Château de Coupiac

Dating from the 15th century, Château de Coupiac is formed by two T-shaped wings, built directly on the bare rock, flanked by three powerful round towers. These remaining towers show architectural differences, evidence of building over an extended period. Built in the flamboyant Gothic architecture, the castle impresses both in area and height, by the number of its machicolations, its latrines and its murder holes. It ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Coupiac, France

Tour Hospitalière du Viala-du-Pas-de-Jaux

Tour Hospitalière du Viala-du-Pas-de-Jaux was a hospital with defensive tower erected by the order of Knights Hospitaller in 1430 to help and protect locals.
Founded: 1430 | Location: Viala-du-Pas-de-Jaux, France

Château du Bosc

Château du Bosc was founded in 1180 and rebuilt in the 15th century. Until the recent years it was always owned by the Bosc and Toulouse-Lautrec family. Thhe castle is open everyday of the year from 9am to 7pm. Guided tour of the reception rooms and bedroom, with memories of Lautrec as a child, and the family museum showing his artistic instinct. Temporary exhibitions in the château.
Founded: 1180 | Location: Camjac, France

Château de Saint-Beauzély

Château de Saint-Beauzély was mentioned first time in 1180 and it was largely altered in the late 16th century after been conquered in the French Wars of Religion. Today the castle hosts a small museum.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Saint-Beauzély, France

Château de Vézins

The Château de Vézins is a much-altered castle in the commune of Vézins-de-Lévézou. It has been in the possession of the Vézins family for 900 years. The first fortress was built in 1120 by Vesian de Vézins to command the Lévezou district. Following a disastrous fire in 1642, the only remains of this original castle are the vaulted rooms of the ground floor. The castle was then redeveloped in the Renaissance ...
Founded: 1120 | Location: Vézins-de-Lévézou, France

Château de Mélac

Château de Mélac is a rare fortified wealthy house of the southern Rouergue was built between the 14th and the 16th centuries. The castle has four main buildings which are interconnected by towers (Renaissance tower) and form an amazing inner courtyard with arcades. The castle forms a very contrasted ensemble because of its different architectural styles: exceptional interior courtyard with arcades supporting the galle ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Saint-Rome-de-Cernon, France

Lugan Commandry

The order of Knights Hospitaller founded a hospital (commanderie) in Lugan in 1180. It consists of a fortified house with four towers, chapel and adjacent buildings.
Founded: 1180 | Location: Lugan, France

Château d'Esplas

Château d"Esplas consists of a square form building with three round and one square tower. It dates to the 13th century. During the Hundred Years" War it was sieged by English army and reinforced in 1376. The newer buildings date from the 16th-17th centuries.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Rebourguil, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.