The original castle in n a rocky spur was supposedly built in 413 by the Visigoths on the side of a mountain, defended by almost inaccessible cliffs. This fortress controlled the Arnette and the Thoré valleys, overlooking the plain where the town of Mazamet now stands.
Pierre-Raymond de Hautpoul is the first known lord of Hautpoul (mentioned in 1084). He rebuilt the castle, constructed the town walls and built the fortified church of Saint-Pierre d'Hautpoul. He accompanied his suzerain Raymond IV of Toulouse on the First Crude to the Holy Land in 1098.
In the 13th century, the lord of Hautpoul and Auxillan was Izarn d'Hautpoul. He reputedly adopted the Cathar faith. The castle and town was besieged by Simon de Montfort in 1212 during the Crusade against the Cathars of the Languedoc. The town was occupied and burned. Its fortifications were destroyed. However the survivors seem to have returned to Catharism as soon as the Crusaders left.
Around 1560, Huguenots (French Protestants) appeared in the region. The castle was besieged again during the wars of Religion between Catholics and Huguenots.
Today, you can still see the long village of Hautpoul winding down the hillside, along with the vestiges of upper and lower castles. At its foot, the river Arnette still winds, and its waters are still perfect for making wool. The old lower town gate has been restored, with its meurtrière. The village is being rejuvenated: picturesque old houses are occupied by craftsmen and their workshops.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.