Château de Saissac

Saissac, France

The Château de Saissac is a ruined castle, one of the so-called Cathar castles. It was once the residence of the powerful vassal family of Trencavel.

The castle dominates the rocky headland and the ravine of Vernassonne, at an important strategic position at the entry of the Montagne noire. Based on historical texts, it can be dated to at least 960. It was bequeathed by the bishop of Toulouse to the Count of Carcassonne. In the 11th century, the castle was pledged to powerful vassals in the country. They formed a junior branch under the counts of Foix who formed at the time the lineage of Saissac. It is important all the same to note the presence of a castrum under the current caste, probably dating from the 11th century, though its origin can date to the time of the Visigoths.

At the time of the Albigensian Crusade in 1229, the lord of Saissac, Bertrand de Saissac, himself a Cathar, was the tutor of Raymond Roger de Trencavel. They were subjugated and stripped of their titles. Bouchard de Marly ordered the seizing of the castle and its goods; it was only later, after 1234, that the castle was restored by Lambert de Thursey, another companion of Montfort.

At the end of the 13th century, the castle became the inheritance of the family of Lévis, new lords of Mirepoix. From 1331 to 1412, it passed to the family of Isle-Jourdain. In the 15th century, the barony was held by the family of Caraman. The castle changed hands repeatedly until 1565, passing through the hands of Bernuy, a rich man, and house of Clermont-Lodève.

In 1568 and 1580, the Protestant troops destroyed the village but were unable to enter the impregnable fortress.

After the French Revolution, the castle quickly fell in ruins, after repeatedly being looted by treasure hunters in 1862 lured by the castle's romantic aspect.

From 1995, the castle has been in the possession of the municipality, which began a programme of restoration in order to make the castle available to visitors. As of 2007, two rooms of the main building (the Aldonce residence, constructed in the 16th century) have been rebuilt in the 16th century style, together with the framework resembling the hull of a ship. Many locked cellars under the keep have now been made accessible.

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Details

Founded: 11th 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

Steven Malby (6 months ago)
Not one to go out of your way for, but interesting nonetheless. Not all the displays work properly, typicall French laissez, faire!
Melanie Armstrong (2 years ago)
Very interesting, and a reasonable entry fee. The views are spectacular.
Martin Saunders (2 years ago)
A great castle to visit, a nice walk down through the historic village with great views.
Des (2 years ago)
This is a partially ruined castle with a small exhibition of interesting local history. The video gives context to the fight between Cathars and the French crown. Very reasonably priced.
Stephen Searles (2 years ago)
Interesting Catar castle ruin. We parked in village and walked down through the old streets. Castle was interesting and is on multiple levels which could cause issues if you are less than 100% mobile. Great views over the valley. There was an interesting art exhibition when we were there. The walk back up was quite challenging but all in all worth the effort. Also visited the church at the entrance to the castle (only pics to hand)
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