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

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

joe higham (12 months ago)
Yet again the ancients deliver amazing stuff x truly the works of crazy Spaniards?? Who knows but wow.
Fabian Celular (13 months ago)
It was closed during February/2020, but it's too small. We had lunch in the garden.
Bram (2 years ago)
Nice little castle. Unfortunately we arrived when the gate was closed, so I have no information on the inside. Looking at the signs outside, the castle is used for regional medieval fairs.
Frank Kasa (2 years ago)
We liked it very much as we are interested in history and such visits but others maybe a bit disappointed. There is not much to visit except the donjion which you can climb and it has three floors with great views over the lovely surrounding countryside. There is one other small building /room you can visit located on the exterior walls. Steeped in 1000 years of history it is an important part of the local history. However the visit won't take long. The buildings are inhabited by bat's which adds to authenticity but some may not be keen on the flying bat's and their droppings.
Sylvain P. (2 years ago)
Superbe château donjon tout en pierre. Il est posé au sommet d'une prairie qui domine la vallée. La visite du château est possible quasiment toute l'année, exceptée décembre et janvier.
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