The Château de Pieusse is one of the so-called Cathar castles. It is a 'true' Cathar castle in the sense that the site was never taken by the French crown during the annexation of Roussillon, but the buildings are mostly of more recent date. It is characterised by a keep, massive for the time, whose use was essentially defensive. The castle is currently private property and not open to the public.
The castle was built in about 1140-1145, under the reign of Louis VII by the Counts of Foix. In 1225, it hosted the Cathar synod, a hundred Perfects presided over by Guilhabert de Castres, bishop of Toulouse. During a meeting at the castle, they decided to create the bishopric of Razes and Benoît de Termes was ordained bishop of this new diocese. In 1229, Bernard Roger, son of the Count of Foix, ceded his fiefdom to the king, Louis IX who joined it to the bishopric of Narbonne. From 1764 to 1790, the castle belonged to Arthur Richard Dillon, last president of the États généraux of Languedoc and Archbishop of Narbonne.
Only a few buildings are visible. Several parts have been reused in other buildings. The north wall is still visible. On the first floor, two elegant twin arched windows with sculptured capitals can be seen. Inside, well-preserved carved stone seats allowed the ladies to see in the distance the arrival of their lords, for this window dominated the whole Aude River valley and the 'Razes' countryside. Another twin window, more simple, is found on the second floor. The massive elongated keep, in front, is standing only to the first floor and includes a beautiful arched vault.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.