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

3.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kris Chlebus (2 years ago)
Muy bonito lugar con buenas vistas al Valle, entrada gratis por ser temporada baja
Fabrice GUIRAUD (2 years ago)
Superbe montée jusqu'au château, très beaux paysages. Manquait plus que tout soit ouvert pour visiter, mais hors-saison non... Une prochaine fois
Bernard TRUHAUD (2 years ago)
Très jolie région ,le Château et dans son état ... . Pour monter le visiter ,il faut être en Bonne Santé ... .Car le parking est en bas ... .La nuit ,il est éclairé c'est très jolie ...
Pierre Thiault (2 years ago)
Looks good from the outside as the castle was closed. Call before you come to ensure it is open.
Brigitte Pourquier (2 years ago)
Je ne mets que 3 étoiles car le château était fermé à la visite... On est quand même le 30 juin, un samedi, c'est bien dommage d'avoir fait toute cette route pour se retrouver devant une grille fermée... Ceci dit, le château est très beau, la petite montée très agréable avec les 5 panneaux explicatifs.
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