Castles, Abbeys and Monasteries

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  To help you familiarize yourself somewhat, we have compiled a list of Castles, Abbeys and Monasteries in the Aude area taking at random in no particular order of prominence, so it's an easy and enjoyable way to know the area...
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La Cité de Carcassonne

La Cité de Carcassonne

La Cité de Carcassonne

The medieval city of Carcassonne is situated on a highpoint overlooking the Aude river. Generally known for its fortified medieval town, occupation goes back to the 6th century B.C. when settlers built Gallic dwelling houses and later an active urban centre during the Roman period. During the 3rd century A.D., a curtain wall was built, of which vestiges remain today. It is on the western side of this primitive fortification that the Trencavel viscounts built the 12th century castle, which was extended and surrounded by a curtain wall a century later. After the Crusade against the Albigensians, the viscounty was definitively attached to the Kingdom of France in 1226. In the 13th century, the outer rampart was built and the inner rampart was modernised, making the city an impregnable fortress. From that time on until 1659, when the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed making the Roussillon region an integral part of France, Carcassonne was the key stone of the defensive system on the border between France and Aragon. Saved from demolition thanks to the efforts of Carcassonne's scholars and Prosper Mérimée, the city underwent extensive renovations between 1844 and 1911, carried out by the architect, Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc, at the request of the French state. Property of the Ministry of Culture, the castle and the ramparts of the city of Carcassonne are opened to the public by the Centre for National Monuments...

   

Château de Montségur

Château de Montségur

Château de Montségur

Montségur Castle, locally known as Château de Montségur, lies above the village with the same name, south of the town of Lavelanet in the Languedoc-Roussillion region in France. The castle is very famous for it's long and bloody history. It stands at the heart of the history of Catharism. This was a religious movement, connected with the Knights Templar during the Crusades, which had separated itself from the catholic church much to the anger of the pope and the catholic French King; Louis IX. In 1244, during the Inquisition, the castle became the last stronghold of the cathars. It was besieged and when the castle finally surrendered after 10 months, 205 cathars (men and women) died at the stake. Furthermore there are a lot of mysteries connected with this castle. It is said to be the last known residence of the Holy Grail. According to legend the Grail, together with other treasures of the cathars, was smuggled out of the castle by two women during the siege in 1244 after which it was never seen again. Also it is thought that the castle may have been a place were sun worship took place. This because the keep and its windows are aligned in such a way that during the summer solstice the first rays of sunlight shine in through the windows on one side, through the keep and out of the windows on the other side. Whatever its history, the castle itself is beautifully located with magnificent views to the surrounding mountains and valleys. To visit the castle you've got to bring your walking boots because it's a 45 minutes long and rough climb from the visitor parking lot.

 

Château de Saissac

Château de Saissac

Château de Saissac

In the heart of the « Montagne Noire » (Black Mountain), to the north-west of Carcassonne, the castle of Saissac stands on its terraces facing an exceptional landscape with the Pyrenees mountains on the horizon. The first written reference to the castle dates from 960 A.D. when it was bequeathed by the Bishop of Toulouse to the Count of Carcassonne, who, in the 11th century, decided to delegate it to powerful vassals, who, thereafter, remained the lords. Just before the Crusade against the Albigensians, the castle belonged to Bertrand de Saissac, appointed in 1194 as guardian of the young Raymond Roger de Trencavel, heir to the viscounty of Carcassonne. Bertrand de Saissac was famous for his intervention during the election of the Prior of Alet : indeed, he had not hesitated to exhume the body of the defunct abbot and sit it on the throne in order to impose the election of one of his friends. In 1209, the Lords of Saissac surrendered to the Crusaders and were, for a time, replaced by Bouchard de Marly, then, after 1234, by Lambert de Thurey. From that time on, the domain of Saissac was split up between several lords : though part of it was returned by King Louis IX to the deposed Lords of Saissac. Afterwards, Saissac was passed from one family to another. It is in this historical context that the story of the «Treasure of Saissac» can be placed. In 1979, on a worksite in the village, a treasure was discovered, valued at about 200 denarius dating from the years 1250 - 1270. The fact that most of this money was coined by the central Capetian administration shows to what extent the Languedoc region used to be controlled by the Kingdom of France. Partially ruined during the middle of the 18th century, the monument was progressively neglected. It was further damaged by treasure hunters in 1862.


 

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