The Châteaux de Lastours are four so-called Cathar castles on a rocky spur above the village of Lastours, isolated by the deep valleys of the Orbeil and Grésilhou rivers. These four castles constitute a single entity, even though they are not a single structure. The natural layout of the site permitted the economy of a fortress of great height. Plans were adapted to the rocks on which they were built. The construction of each is different reflecting the range of alterations made to the castles.
In the Middle Ages, the site belonged to the lords of Cabaret, mentioned for the first time in 1067. Probably only three castles were built in the 11th century and their sites evolved over the years following demolition and successive rebuilding.
The castles existed through the Albigensian crusade. The lords of Cabaret were closely linked to the followers of Catharism and the villages surrounding the castles welcomed many Cathars. The fortress at this time belonged to Pierre-Roger de Cabaret follower of Raymond Roger Trencavel, who fought at his side during the defence of Carcassonne. In 1209, the site resisted the attacks of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester. But the crusader Bouchard de Marly, then lord of the Château de Saissac, was taken prisoner by Pierre-Roger. His freedom was negotiated against the surrender of Cabaret in 1211.
In 1223, the lords of Cabaret repossessed their lands and Cabaret became the seat of the Cathar bishop of Carcassès. Pierre-Roger resisted Simon de Montfort's attacks for many years, but in 1227, the castles were again besieged by Humbert de Beaujeu. In 1229, Cabaret capitulated.
The villages and the castles were plundered and then rebuilt to become royal fortresses. The Tour Régine was built by order of the king to affirm his supremacy. They became the administrative and military centre of six communities forming the châtellerie of Cabardès. In the 16th century, the castles were occupied by Protestants. They were dislodged by maréchal de Joyeuse in 1591.
Cabaret is the main citadel with a barbican defence system. It consists of a north tower, a polygonal keep in the south and a group of residential buildings in the centre. The whole is surrounded by ramparts with a round walk. The crenellated wall is built with irregular material, with large stones forming the corners and openings.
The Tour Régine, closest to Cabaret, is the most recent fortress and the smallest. It consists of a round tower, surrounded by a small curtain wall which has collapsed. Below ground, the tower contains the largest cistern of the four castles. The tower has three storeys and is flanked by a spiral staircase. The white limestone used is identical to that at Cabaret. It is thought that this tower was built after the Albigensian Crusade: the name (Régine = Royal) suggests as much and there is no written evidence of its existence prior to 1260.
Also called Fleur-Espine (Thornflower), this castle is the least preserved of the four. On the highest part of the site, it consists of a square tower, a house and a cistern. A rectangular curtain wall gives protection. It is noted for the rarity of its murder holes and its four semicircular arched windows.
The Quertinheux is furthest south along the crest on an isolated rocky outcrop. It consists of a circular tower and a polygonal curtain wall. A chicane defends the entrance. It overlooks the remains of a destroyed Romanesque church.References:
The Walled City of Jajce is a medieval fortified nucleus of Jajce in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with citadel high above town on top of pyramidal-shaped steep hill, enclosed with approximately 1,300 metres long defensive walls,. It is one of the best preserved fortified capitals of the Bosnian Kingdom, the last stronghold before the kingdom dissolved under the pressure of military advancement at the onset of Ottoman Empire takeover.
The entire complex of the Walled city of Jajce, with the citadel, city ramparts, watchtower Medvjed-kula, and two main city gate-towers lies on the southern slope of a large rocky pyramid at the confluence of the rivers Pliva and Vrbas, enclosed by these rivers from the south-southwest, with the bed of the Pliva, and east-southeast by the river Vrbas gorge.
The fortress was built by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, the founder of Jajce. However, the city became the seat of the Bosnian kings, hence the royal coat of arms decoration on the citadel entrance. A part of the wall was built by the Hungarian King, while the Ottomans erected the powder magazine. The walls are high and the castle was built on a hill that is egg shaped, the rivers Pliva and Vrbas also protect the castle. There is no rampart on the south and west.
Jajce was first built in the 14th century and served as the capital of the independent Kingdom of Bosnia during its time. The town has gates as fortifications, as well as a castle with walls which lead to the various gates around the town. About 10–20 kilometres from Jajce lies the Komotin Castle and town area which is older but smaller than Jajce. It is believed the town of Jajce was previously Komotin but was moved after the Black Death.
The first reference to the name of Jajce in written sources is from the year 1396, but the fortress had already existed by then. Jajce was the residence of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomasevic; the Ottomans besieged the town and executed him, but held it only for six months, before the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus seized it at the siege of Jajce and established the Banovina of Jajce.
Skenderbeg Mihajlović besieged Jajce in 1501, but without success because he was defeated by Ivaniš Korvin assisted by Zrinski, Frankopan, Karlović and Cubor.
During this period, Queen Catherine restored the Saint Mary"s Church in Jajce, today the oldest church in town. Eventually, in 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to Ottoman rule. The town then lost its strategic importance, as the border moved further north and west.
Jajce passed with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the administration of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The Franciscan monastery of Saint Luke was completed in 1885.
The Walled city of Jajce is located at the confluence of the Pliva and Vrbas rivers. It was founded and started developing in the Middle Ages and acquired its final form during the Ottoman period. There are several churches and mosques built in different times during different rules, making Jajce a rather diverse town in this aspect. It is declared National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, as the old Jajce city core, including the waterfall, and other individual sites outside the walled city perimeter, such as the Jajce Mithraeum, it is designated as The natural and architectural ensemble of Jajce and proposed as such for inscription into the UNESCO"s World Heritage Site list. The bid for inscription is currently placed on the UNESCO Tentative list.