Château d'Usson

Rouze, France

The Château d'Usson is one of the so-called Cathar castles located in the commune of Rouze. It is sited upstream from Axat, along the Aude River gorge, carved out of the foothills of the Pyrenees.

The castle dates from the 11th century (perhaps earlier) and during the Cathar period marked the eastern boundary of the territories of the Counts of Foix. In the 12th century, this was the capital of the Donézan region. Before the défilé was cut through the mountains to link Quillan to Axat, this was an inaccessible outpost providing succour for faidits and other persecuted Cathars. The Cathar bishop of Toulouse Guilhabert de Castres is known to have taken refuge here.

Towards the end of the wars against the Cathars this was one of their last sanctuaries, providing support for Montségur. The seigneurs of Usson, Bernard d'Alion, lord of the Château de Montaillou, and his brother Arnaud d'Usson sent arms and supplies to their besieged comrades there. On 15 March 1244, the day before 225 Cathar parfaits were burned alive at Montségur, four other parfaits left the castle there for Usson, where the Cathar treasure had been evacuated a few months earlier. This mystery has fed a number of theories about the equally mysterious treasure supposedly found at Rennes-le-Château in the 19th century.

Bernard d'Alion was burned alive at Perpignan in 1258. The castle was rebuilt as a French border fortress, and given by Louis XIV to the new Marquis d'Usson. Like other seigneural residences it was sold as communal property at the French Revolution, after which time it was used as a stone quarry.

On display at the castle are parts of the wreckage of a Second World War British Dakota transport aircraft which crashed on 5 December 1944 on a nearby mountain with the loss of seventeen lives.

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Details

Founded: 11th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Raquel Morán (10 months ago)
It was closed. The villages that we have passed through on the way, sadly, abandoned on the brink of disappearance. Some mansions, in other times, dedicated to lodging, preserved and for sale.
clp pvp (12 months ago)
A very quiet and beautiful place. It is worth going up to the castle, the visit is overpriced € 4.5, if you consider what is actually on display
Beno Mrx (12 months ago)
Ruin offering a nice point of view. The museum is short but interesting. The period settings of the pieces are well done. You can feel the soul of ancient times.
Luis Quiñones (2 years ago)
Free visit
Kris Chlebus (4 years ago)
Muy bonito lugar con buenas vistas al Valle, entrada gratis por ser temporada baja
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