The small village of Padern is overlooked by a medieval chateau in ruins. The Chateau de Padern is built on a cliff which dominates at the same time the village of Padern and the valley of Verdouble, in the Corbieres. The castle of Padern in itself is nothing more than a ruin, but it’s a beautiful ruin. From the chateau, one can discover superb sights of the wild landscapes of the Corbieres.
The Chateau de Padern is not far from the route departementale 14 which connects Cucugnan, Tuchan and Paziols. One cannot reach the chateau directly in a car. A small rather steep but short path leads there from the village of Padern. The Chateau de Padern is also located on the Cathare Route, a path which connects some of the most beautiful sites related to the history of the cathares between the Mediterranean and the town of Foix in the Ariege.
In connection with the localization of the Chateau de Padern, one can say that it is built on a very advantageous position with strategic planning in mind, since it is on a practically impregnable side of the village. On a more general level, the chateau is well positioned at the exit of Grau de Padern, which is a spectacular procession of rocks limestones. The Chateau de Padern has a less well-known history and somewhat less important than of other fortresses in the area, in particular because it played an important role during the Crusade against the Albigensians (contrary to a chateau like Termes for example).
One knows only a few things about the Chateau de Padern. However Padern is mentioned as of 899. At that time, Carolingian king Charles gives the territory of Padern to the Abbeye de Lagrasse, which will be owned until 1579. Fortifications are mentioned in Padern in 1026 for the first time. Padern is a castle resulting from feuds in the area. About 1165-1192 a ‘forcia’, secondary fortification, are added to Padern. It is placed under the authority of the Abbot de Lagrasse.
During the Albigensian crusade Chabert de Barbaira seizes Padern. It is not helped with the fall of Queribus but the Abbeye de Lagrasse recovers. In 1283, the abbey of Lagrasse adapts the fortress after transactions with the prosecutors of the King of France against payment. At the end of XVIth century, the seigniory of Padern is entrusted to Jean-Pierre Vic, originating in Gerone in Catalonia. It settles in Padern and arranges the castle by preserving its character, now strengthened and feudal because of the insecurity which reigned then. The castle which was not that of a ‘malicious hovel’ it is home to an estimated at 800 books in 1579 was estimated at 9000 pounds in 1706. In spite of its feudal pace it seems to be mainly rebuilt by the family of Vic after the wars of religion. Then in 1706, Blaise II de Vic resells it with the Abbeye of Lagrasse. In 1790, it is then abandoned.
The latter sheltered with the first stages an arched vault dedicated to Saint Louis. One penetrated then in a polygonal building which gave access to the court yard. The center of the court yard, one reaches the donjon by a round turret staircase. The keep which was used as residence for the family of Vic, comprised of three levels. In the north, a small part shelters a garbage chute. In the west of the keep the home develops, built at the end of the XVIIth century.
The current building corresponds to a construction of the XVIIth century realized by the Pierre lord de Vic who acquires at this period. A panel located on the Cathare Path, at the foot of the fortress, dissuades the visitors to reach the castle. Indeed the ruins of the castle are not made safe and the visit is done with the risks and dangers of failing stones, so beware the visitor.