The Château de Coucy is a French castle in the commune of Coucy-le-Château-Auffrique, in Picardy, built in the 13th century and renovated by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. During its heyday, it was famous for the size of its central tower and the pride of its lords.

The castle was constructed in the 1220s by Enguerrand III, Lord of Coucy. The castle proper occupies the tip of a bluff or falaise. It forms an irregular trapezoid of 92 x 35 x 50 x 80 m. At the four corners are cylindrical towers 20 m in diameter (originally 40 m in height). Between two towers on the line of approach was the massive donjon (keep). The donjon was the largest in Europe, measuring 35 meters wide and 55 meters tall. The smaller towers surrounding the court were as big as the donjons being built at that time by the French monarchy. The rest of the bluff is covered by the lower court of the castle, and the small town.

Coucy was occupied in September 1914 by German troops during World War I. It became a military outpost and was frequented by German dignitaries, including Emperor Wilhelm II himself. In March 1917 the retreating German army, on order of General Erich Ludendorff, destroyed the keep and the 4 towers. It is not known whether this act had some military purpose or was merely an act of wanton destruction. The destruction caused so much public outrage that in April 1917 the ruins were declared 'a memorial to barbarity'. War reparations were used to clear the towers and to consolidate the walls but the ruins of the keep were left in place.

One of its lords, Enguerrand VII (1340–1397) is the subject of historian Barbara Tuchman's study of the fourteenth century, A Distant Mirror. It also features extensively in British author Anthony Price's 1982 crime/espionage novel The Old Vengeful.

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Details

Founded: 1220s
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Thomas Burman (9 months ago)
Excellent place to take the family, very interesting and alot to explore. Went with our 2 year old and she loved running round and exploring - slept very well that night too! ?
Steve (9 months ago)
If you want to see the goats around the side then you need to turn right at the entrance sign and walk down to the end and down the steps. Either that or park in the layby on the twisty road up and walk through the red gates. Very beautiful spot and nice little walk.
Christian Hulleman (2 years ago)
Beautiful castle, a shame that it was blown up in WW1. Lots of information about the castle and the surroundings. Great views on the towers.
julie hawes (3 years ago)
lovely place
TheEvdriver (3 years ago)
One of my highlights on this trip so far. Beautiful ruins, large dimensions, good information in 3 languages (french, english and german). Don' t miss a visit of the village with its church and portals.
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