The Palace of Cienfuegos de Peñalba arises on a hill near Pola de Allande. It was originally built in the 15th century on the site of an ancient fort, but has been refurbished so that the only remaining Gothic elements are on the lowest level.
The original owners were in the Ponce lineage, but it passed to the Counts de Luna and in 1515 to the Cienfuegos family lines. Around 1520 Rodrigo González de Cienfuegos, lord of Allande, undertook renovations to rebuild the property. In the eighteenth century, the property became the residence of the Count of Peñalba who renovated it to suit his tastes.
The Palace has L-shaped plan and is marked by three solid towers, which are not crenellated, adding to the monumental elements of the building and leading to its appearance of strong defenses. Of the three towers, the two oldest are the square ones and the most recent is rectangular. The last one was added as a housing area in the nineteenth century. It contains 23 bedrooms, as well as a hall, kitchen, living room, lounge, and oratory. The rectangular courtyard has little decoration or ornamentation. Without porticoes the first floor has a wooden gallery supported by thick, rough masonry columns. There are also multiple stables.
In 2008 a rehabilitation project was completed which recovered some of the shapes and colors from the 1888 gallery which was added to the main tower at that time.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.