Château de Foix

Foix, France

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.

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Address

Rue du Rocher 4, Foix, France
See all sites in Foix

Details

Founded: 10th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jacqueline Oliver (2 years ago)
Wonderful. Lovely town too.
Stephen Yang (3 years ago)
Great experience. Superb scenery. Best place to enjoy sunset. Great for jogging also. It's a very old castle and it's preserved very well. You can learn a lot inside. The castle serves as museum.
Jamie Hay (3 years ago)
Excellent little castle. Great experience climbing the towers. Very interesting graffiti and carved images all over the stairwells. A few well done displays on the history of the castle. The archery was a great bonus. Very friendly, informative guy giving mini lessons in crossbow and longbow archery. A good couple of hours.
Neil Brighton (3 years ago)
Lovely castle with great views over town. Would be even better if more of the exhibits had explanation in another language as well as French (there are some in English and Spanish but it would be helpful to have more).
David Bell (3 years ago)
Easy walk up from the town, with good views of the surrounding countryside. Nearly every room in the castle is accessible and contains historical information. The downside is that the towers all have steep spiral steps and most of the information is only in French
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