La Couvertoirade Village

La Couvertoirade, France

The well-preserved fortified town of La Couvertoirade was owned by the Knights Templar, under orders from the Commandery of Sainte-Eulalie, from the twelfth century. The Templars built the fortress there during the 12th and 13th centuries; its two upper floors have since been removed. Following their dissolution in 1312, the Templars' property in the causses was taken by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem who were responsible for building the curtain wall at La Couvertoirade between 1439 and 1450.

Access is via steps cut into the rock at the church of Saint Christophe. Built in the 14th century by the Templar and then by the Hospitaler Knights, it is partly dug into the rock and its flat chevet forms part of the village ramparts. The church possesses surprising contemporary stained glass windows: the work of master glass worker Claude Baillon, they have the particularity of being figurative, which is rare for contemporary stained glass windows.

Today the village is brought to life by the artisan boutiques and old shops.

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Cesis Castle

German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.

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