Château de Pontevès

Pontevès, France

The Château de Pontevès site is first recorded in a document in 1021 as the property of the monastery of Saint-Victoir in Marseille. Later, the lords of Pontevès progressively developed the site. In 1233 there is mention of a gate to the courtyard and the buildings arranged in the U-shape characteristic of the early 13th century. Further additions between 1560 and 1580 included a new bedroom, a great hall and the northwest tower. Between 1580 and 1590, the castle was defended during the Wars of Religion. In 1626, a billiards room, tennis court, stables and chicken house were added. Gradually, the castle was developed as a comfortable residence rather than a defensive site.

In 1650, François de Pontevès sold the castle to a rich Aix-en-Provence financier, Pierre Maurel, nicknamed the Croesus of Provence. The site then underwent a massive upheaval with most of the ancient edifice being destroyed and the materials reused to construct a vast building containing more than 50 rooms on three levels. Three corner towers were added. A gallery was decorated with trompe l'oeil paintings by Jean Daret.

However, this splendour was not to last. Faults in its constructions and inheritance problems led to a rapid degradation. By the time of the French Revolution the castle was already crumbling and many houses in the village today show evidence of plundering of the site for building materials, particularly doorframes and windows.

The castle today is open to the public. Visitors can see the gateway, four towers, parts of the curtain wall and other ruined structures.

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Pontevès, France
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Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

3.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

daniel bemer (45 days ago)
Belle vue petite ruine
Patrice Assous (2 months ago)
Beau point de vu mais les restes du château sont pratiquement inexistant.
Domaine ROCHES BLANCHES (2 months ago)
Très beau
Didier HENNEBOIS (4 months ago)
Fiers vestiges face à un panorama grandiose
Michel MONTEIL (6 months ago)
Château ruiné à quatre tours qui, avec le clocher à campanile, donne un cachet particulier au village de Pontevès. Entre les tour, il y a une esplanade herbeuse d'où on a une belle vue sur les montagnes au Nord. (Méfiez-vous, cette esplanade est un lieu de promenade pour les chiens du village, regardez où vous mettez les pieds !)
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.