Château d'Arques

Arques, France

The Château d'Arques is one of the so-called Cathar castles. In the 12th century, there was a conflict between the viscount of Carcassonne and several seigneurs, including Arques and Lagrasse. The estates at Arques became the property of the seigneurs of Termes.

In 1231, after the defeat of the Château de Termes during the Albigensian Crusade, Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, attacked Arques. After having burned the village, situated on the banks of the Rialsès, he gave this part of Razès to one of his lieutenants, Pierre de Voisins. In 1284, Gilles de Voisins began work on building a castle, with the intention of defending the Rialsès valley and controlling the transhumance routes leading to the Corbières. In 1316, Gilles II de Voisins altered and completed the castle.

In 1575, the castle was besieged by Protestants during the Wars of Religion and only the keep managed to resist the assault. By the start of the French Revolution the castle had fallen into ruin. It was sold as a national asset and subsequently suffered severe damage.

The castle consists of an enceinte and a high square keep with four turrets. It was built after Albigensian Crusade of the 13th century. The almost square enceinte encircles the castle with a gateway furnished with machicolation and surmounted with a keystone bearing the arms of the Voisin famil. Numerous buildings must have existed the length of the enceinte. Two well-preserved residential towers remain.

The square keep, 25 m high, is a work of military architecture inspired by castles in the Ile de France. It has four levels served by a spiral staircase. The various rooms were constructed with extreme care. The top floor was given over to defence of the castle. Forty soldiers could defend it thanks to numerous murder holes and rectangular bays set symmetrically into the walls.

It is a good example of the progress in military construction in a strategically important region.

The castle is owned partly by the commune and partly privately. It is open to visitors.

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Arques, France
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Details

Founded: 1284
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Carrie Alexander (11 months ago)
A small and well kept chateau near the town of Arques. Definitely worth the visit, plus you can see bats!
Guido Coenders (13 months ago)
It’s a really nice place to see from the outside. Paying 6 Euros to get in is definitely not worth it.
Paul Lamot (16 months ago)
Beautiful little castle in a valley. Not the largest, but a nice example of the homes of smaller lords in the area. A steep staircase leads to various rooms spanning the whole castle. Access to the castle is easy from the parking lot. People with reduced mobility won't be able to get to the higher levels of the castle. Still the view from the courtyard of the castle and it's surrounding countryside is stunning. Well worth visiting if you are in the area. The small thermal spring town of Rennes les Bains is close by.
Nick Newing (17 months ago)
The Chateau is closed at the moment, but having visited before it’s a fascinating place attached to a lovely village.
Garry Wood (2 years ago)
Good historical site in a beautiful setting.
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