Château de Culan

Culan, France

The Château de Culan is a French medieval castle located in the commune of Culan. The castle, listed as a Monument historique at the start of the 20th century and classified for its walls and roofs in 1956, has known a turbulent history. It is built on a rocky outcrop dominating the River Arnon (a site naturel classé - classified natural site). The first wooden construction, of which nothing remains, was demolished in the 10th century. A second building was besieged and destroyed by King Philip II Augustus of France (1188), then at war with Henry II Plantagenet, king of England.

The present castle dates from 12th century until 15th century, with additions from the Renaissance. It has belonged, among the others, to Admiral Louis de Culant (1360 – 1444), to Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully (1599 – 1621), and later the Prince de Condé. In 1651, during the Fronde, Mazarin laid siege to the town with royal troops and destroyed the 15th century ramparts. During the Revolution, the castle lands were shared among several families and the fortress was sold as national property. The castle received several famous visitors: Joan of Arc, Louis XI, Sully, Madame de Sévigné, the novelist George Sand and Ernest Renan. General Charles de Gaulle, visiting Saint-Amand-Montrond after the war, preferred to sleep in a private house in the Rue de l'Église.

The château de Culan is in excellent condition. It was restored between 1950 and 1980 by an earlier owner, Jean Ferragut, who organised exhibitions there (Pablo Picasso, Bernard Buffet, Flemish tapestries, etc.) It is one of the few castles to still have wooden turrets which allowed stones and other projectiles to be thrown down onto attackers. The castle has beautiful monumental fireplaces from the 15th century. Around the castle, at the end of the 20th century, 'medieval gardens' were laid out.

The present owners, Jean Pierre Marquis and Edouard Marquis (father and son), are continuing the work of restoration and preservation.

The castle is open to visitors every day from Easter to the end of October. Medieval weekends are organised in July and August as well as torchlight tours on some summer evenings.

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Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Colette Thomas (3 months ago)
Visite agréable et parfois insolite. ... Merci au propriétaire d avoir ouvert son château gratuitement aux habitants de Culan ...
Gisèle (4 months ago)
Château qui vaut vraiment le détour. Le propriétaire fait lui même le guide pour nous faire découvrir son château et son histoire qui est passionnante. Nous sommes tombés sous le charme de ce château et avons passé un après-midi formidable. Des visiteurs du Puy de Dôme
Manuel Déron (7 months ago)
On ne sait pas ce qu'est une visite guidée avant d'avoir suivi le guide de ce château. Il profite des murs de cette ancienne forteresse pour nous apprendre comment et pourquoi nos ancêtres du moyen âge vivaient de cette manière. Il nous transmet avec engouement ses connaissances et la visite guidée passe d'un trait. Comptez ~3h30 pour tout faire, vous pouvez visiter seul et rapidement mais c'est tellement dommage :)
rosie boyes (8 months ago)
No guides to be found. So not allowed into chateau. Not a favourite
Helen James (2 years ago)
Pretty chateau. Visit by guided tour only. Not for those who don't understand French fluently as there is an awful lot of time spent standing in one place listening to the guide's rapid commentary. French adults found him amusing so I suspect he is good - just not accessible to those with limited French or with small children
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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.