Château de Pirou

Pirou, France

The Château de Pirou was initially built of wood, then of stone in the 12th century and belonged to the lords of Pirou. It was constructed near the shore of the English Channel, and used to watch upon the west coast of the Cotentin, to protect the town of Coutances.

The castle was transformed into Lord Adnans penthouse during the 18th century, and then began to deteriorate. The Restoration was begun on the initiative of the abbot Marcel Lelégard (1925-1994).The castle now lies in the middle of an artificial pond. The drawbridge has been replaced by a stone bridge. The curtain walls from the 12th century enclose two residential houses from two different periods (16th and 18th centuries).

A famous legend of Normandy originates in the castle at Pirou. Besieged by the Normans, the lord of Pirou and his family transformed themselves into geese, using an old wizard’s book, in order to escape during the assault. But a few days later, when they tried to read the reverse spell to recover their human shapes, they realized that the wizard’s book had burnt with the castle, set on fire by the Normans. This is why wild geese stop in the Cotentin each year in March, during their annual migration.

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Le Château 1, Pirou, France
See all sites in Pirou

Details

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

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Louise Toulorge (2 years ago)
Incredibly atmospheric. Wonderful architecture. A small gem. Must be seen.
David FOX (3 years ago)
Lovely old fortified chateau which has been partially restored but mind your head.
P P (3 years ago)
Pretty chateau well worth a visit, we spent about 1.5hrs there on a rainy morning exploring the castle, we did the battlements walk twice as the kids loved the tricky spiral staircases and being up on top of the castle. The staff were welcoming and gave us an information sheet in English explaining the history of the castle. The facilities are quite basic, no cafe but a little gift shop, not great if you have any mobility problems.
Geraldine Ling (3 years ago)
Lovely place. The tapestry (embroidery) is fantastic.
Badeshi (3 years ago)
Good castle with range of rooms and battlements to explore. Would benefit from more refreshments but toilets are good.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Glimmingehus

Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).

Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.

Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.

An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

On site there is a museum, medieval kitchen, shop and restaurant and coffee house. During summer time there are several guided tours daily. In local folklore, the castle is described as haunted by multiple ghosts and the tradition of storytelling inspired by the castle is continued in the summer events at the castle called "Strange stories and terrifying tales".