Château de Najac was built in 1253 by the villagers on the orders of Alphonse de Poitiers, brother of king Louis IX of France. It was erected on the site of an older castle (a square tower) built in 1100.
The inner bailey of the castle forms a rough rectangle, with the longest side about 40 meters long. Towers project from the South and North walls, and there are towers at each corner, including an earlier square tower and a large round donjon from where the defence of the castle can be coordinated. The gate is protected by a barbican.
The castle has a world record with its 6.80 metre high archères (a thin aperture for archers), such a size being designed to allow use by three archers at the same time. A secret corridor, hidden within the walls, links the Romanesque tower to the chapel of the keep.
Possession of this castle, built 200 meters over the Aveyron River, was key to control of the region.
Najac has been near major events of history: the first English occupation, the Albigensian Crusade, the Hundred Years' War, the imprisonment of the Knights Templar, the peasants' revolts, and the French Revolution.
After having been used as a stone quarry in the 19th century, Najac was saved by the Cibiel family, who own it and open it to visitors. The Château de Najac is one of a group of 23 castles in Aveyron who have joined together to provide a tourist itinerary as the Route des Seigneurs du Rouergue.References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.