The name of Puycelsi comes from the Celtic 'Celto Dun', a wooden fortress built on a hill, or oppidum, later transformed into 'Podium Celsium' by the Romans.
The village itself was founded in a location close to the ancient prehistoric site by Benedictine Monks from the Aurillac Abbey in the 10th century. It stands high above the right bank of the Vère, which flows northwestward through the commune.
The first castle was dismantled after the Treaty of Meaux-Paris, in 1229, but the village remained a stronghold. Though it was besieged several times in the 13th and 14th centuries, it was reportedly never taken by force.
Until the First World War, the village was quite prosperous, with a population of nearly 2,000 in 1830. Almost abandoned in the 1950s, it has since been restored by its inhabitants and is now listed among the “Most Beautiful Villages of France”.
The fortifications include the 14th century ramparts, the Irissou Gate with its double defensive system and the 15th century castle. The notable buildings are also the St-Roch Chapel, built in 1703 and St-Corneille Church (14th-15th-century), with classified well-preserved ancient furniture.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.