Château Royal de Collioure

Collioure, France

The Château Royal de Collioure is a massive French royal castle in the town of Collioure, a few kilometers north of the Spanish border. The Château is the juxtaposition of at least four castles. Roussillon was conquered by the Romans around 120 BC and then occupied by the Visigoths from 418. The first mention is about a fortified site in Collioure under siege in 673, by Wamba, king of the Visigoths who lay siege to the “Castellum Caucolibéri” to subdue a rebellion.

In the 12th century, Girard II, the last independent count of the Roussillon, bequeathed his land to Alfons II, King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona. Concerned about the prosperity of Collioure, the kings of Aragon granted privileges and tax exemptions. An annual fair was established, and important works were undertaken in the castle, the port and the town. The Knights Templar built the castle around 1207 and integrated it to the royal castle in 1345.

A second castle was later built by the Kings of Majorca during the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 13th century, the Castle was annexed to the Kingdom of Majorca, which included the domain of Montpellier, the earldoms of the Roussillon and Cerdanya, the Conflent and Vallespir, and the Balearic Islands. The Kings of Majorca were itinerant. They travelled with their court, moving frequently from Maguelonne, near Montpellier, to Perpignan, to Palma de Majorca or to Collioure.

In the 16th century, after a brief occupation by Louis XI, the Spanish Habsburgs, starting with Charles Quint, again occupied Collioure. He and his son Philip II turned the castle into a modern fortress of the 16th century. It was imperative that the fortifications were adapted in line with the advances in artillery, and so the castle defences and its surroundings were considerably reinforced.

In the 17th century Collioure was at stake in the wars between the Spanish Habsburgs and the French Bourbons. In 1642, Louis XIII's troops lay siege to Collioure and the Château Royal. Ten thousand men including Turenne, d'Artagnan and the King's musketeers occupied the hills overlooking the town, while the French fleet blocked the port. Deprived of water due to the destruction of their wells, the Spanish were forced to surrender. In 1659, France annexed the Roussillon and Collioure and the castle passed definitively into French hands. Vauban built the bastions, reinforced the structure and upgraded Fort Saint-Elme.

In 1793, the Spanish again besieged and occupied Collioure, which General Dugommier took back the next year.

The castle was turned into a men's prison in March 1939 and became the first disciplinary camp for the Spanish refugees of the Retirada, the exile from the Spanish Civil War. Many others were sent to the camps of Argelès-sur-Mer and Rivesaltes. After 1941, French detainees were prisoners of the Vichy regime. The prison received men sentenced for indiscipline, attempted escape and incitement to rebellion from the camps of Argelès-sur-Mer, Saint-Cyprien and Le Barcarès. The detainees transited there before being sent to North Africa. Today the castle is one of the major tourist spots in Northern Catalonia.

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Details

Founded: 1207
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Robert Hollingworth (8 months ago)
Great views over Collioure which feel maybe more worthy of the 7 Euro admission than the castle itself. I felt a little underwhelmed at first, perhaps because many of the rooms are empty, but the more I explored the more I enjoyed the visit. Would definitely recommend a visit for the views and the historic reminder of the area of the years especially during WWII
Matt (8 months ago)
Castel Royale is an incredibly well preserved piece of history with so much to explore. The views across Collioure are incredible. It’s priced really well (€14 for a family of four). It to us 2-3 hours to get round with a free map/guide provided in multiple languages. The toilets are clean and free. The only negative is that there is very little on show within the castle, most of the rooms are bare, so there is little to look at or read. There is also no cafe.
Jo Hobday (8 months ago)
Beautiful place to visit, especially the view (and breeze) from the top. Children loved it, a particular like were the, what looked like, coloured glass windows.
Adrian Somerville (9 months ago)
Amazing place! We visited from Australia! So much history and great views from the top! Highly recommended!
Henrik Haugberg (10 months ago)
In interesting and exciting surroundings on historical grounds, but in many of the rooms there is only empty space and not even information about what the room was used for or when it was built. There is potential to improve the experience for visitors.
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