Chateau de Saissac

The Chateau de Saissac is a cathare castle located on the commune of Saissac in the Aude department to the North-West of Carcassonne. It was the residence of the powerful vassal family of Trencavel. These ruins and their accesses are listed as monuments historiques. The castle is located at the extreme North of the department of Aude in the commune of Saissac. The castle dominates over its rock headland of the ravine of Vernassonne, which is an important strategic position, the entry of the Montagne Noire. It is located at the southernmost end of the village of Saissac.

To enter the chateau, you enter via the access to a municipal building built on the rock on which the chateau is built, beside the church. The chateau appears in texts from the year 960. It is bequeathed by the bishop of Toulouse to the Count de Carcassonne. In the XIth century. It should be noted of the presence of another chateau under the current chateau probably dating from XIth century, but its origin can go back further.

The lord of Saissac, Bertrand de Saissac had embraced the ‘cathare’ faith and was the tutor of Raymond-Roger Trencavel. At the time of the crusade against the Albigensians in 1229, Saissac is stripped. Bouchard de Marly ordering of the crusaders to seize the chateau and its goods, then after 1234, Lambert of Thurey, another companion of Montfort, the castle is re-established. At the end of XIIIth century, it enters via the inheritance of the family of Levis, new lords of Mirepoix, and becomes finally, of 1331 to 1412, into the possession of the family of the Isle-Jordan.

In the XVth century, the baronnie is held by the family of Caraman. by the other owners, (the Bernuy rich person, the house of Clermont-Lodeve) changing ownership again in 1565. In 1568 and 1580, the Protestant troops destroy the village but cannot enter the impregnable chateau. It was then held from 1715 by Luynes which did not reside inside the fortress. The castle unoccupied and is already dilapidated in the middle of the XVIIIth century.

Throughout the Revolution, the castle is used as a stone quarry. Its romantic aspect is worth alot, slowly degraded further in 1862 by treasure hunters. It is bought in 1920 by Henri Dupuy Mazel, playwright. After his death, in 1994, its heirs give the chateau to the town hall of Saissac. Since 1995, the municipality carries out a program of restoration.

From 2004 to 2006, two rooms of the body of the home (Aldonce home built during XVIth century) are rebuilt in the XVIth century style (with in a roof frame similar to those found in the hull of boat). In these rooms are today a small museum presenting information on the old currency, in particular on the “tresor” found in Saissac (2000 coins, (alot in those days, 400 for a lamb, 2 for a bottle of wine..??) found in 1973 during building work). The castle is built on three contiguous terraces, on a rock headland. It mainly consists of schist’s, but also comprises granite for certain particular places (e.g cornices).

One reaches the castle via the side of the village. The drawbridge and the ditch disappeared, and one enters directly into the first terrace. To the West two round watch towers flank the wall. In the center of the terrace draw up the remainders of a polygonal donjon of approximately 20m in height. The slope of access to the East leads to the second terrace, on which also a large body of home sits (in which the museum is now installed). On the third terrace are two towers, circular in frame part of the Southern wall.


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