The castle in small village of Bargème was constructed in the 13th century. During the Wars of religion it was in hands of Jean-Basptiste de Pontevès, Lord of Callas (1505-1579). In April 1579, the inhabitants of Callas, assisted by a resident named Jacques Sossy, a lieutenant of a Huguenot branch, broke into the castle and killed Pierre de Pontevès, then imprisoned Jean-Baptiste de Pontevès, his wife and his son Balthazar.
They locked Jean-Baptiste de Pontevès in a tower and stole his money. He was held prisoner for 45 days, and on the morning of May 24, 1579, he was taken out into the street and shot. A few months later, two of his other sons, Joseph and Jean-Baptiste, were killed in Bargème. In 1581, Balthazar de Pontevès took possession of the castle, but he was also a tyrant and violent like his father and one night, during an altercation, some men killed him in the common room of the village.
The property then passed to a younger son, Fulks of Pontevès. He, however, was accused of having been the instigator of crimes committed by a nephew and was sentenced to death. That sentence was absolved by the Privy Council of the King. It was towards the end of the 36 year period of the religious wars in France when the castle began to be demolished.
In 1818, Victorine de Pontevès-Bargème, the heir to the land and the castle ruins, married Elzéar Louis Zozime, Count and Duc de Sabran. They had no children so they decided to adopt the nephews of Victorine, Marc Edouard and Joseph Leonides de Pontevès. The castle was passed down over the years to their heirs and was kept in the family until 2008. At this point, the owners decided to put the castle up for sale and it was purchased in 2008 by the community of Bargème.
Today with its ramparts, two fortified gates, the Tower of Guard, the Porte du Levant, and the ruins of its castle, Bargème remains one of the most intact, old, feudal villages of Provence and this is what gives it its immense charm.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.