Chateau de Peyrepertuse

The Chateau de Peyrepertuse (in occitan Castel de Peirapertusa) is a cathare chateau. Located on the commune of Duilhac-under-Peyrepertuse department of the Aude in Languedoc-Roussillon area in Corbieres. It is on a rock peak on the top of a hill which separates Duilhac from the village of Rouffiac-de-Corbieres.

A strategic position which at the same time makes it possible to see far in the various valleys which surrounds it, to control the collars or to communicate signals with the chateau de Queribus a little more in the south. The sight of the castle from Duilhac (in the south) is impressive thanks to the cliff of over 30 to 40 meters on which the castle is posed. The main entrance is northern side, but at the time of the Cathares a secret passage made it possible to pass through a narrow way behind a large rocky outcrop to return to the castle.

Today the postern of the secrete way is closed but the passage will always be there behind the spur which is exceptional. The site was occupied at the time of the Romans at the beginning of the first century before Jesus-Christ, like shown in recent excavations. In 806 the first mentions of the castle in History appear. It is then Catalan and is called Perapertuses. It belongs to the count de Besalu, a small town located in Catalonia between Figueres and Olot, in a text of 1020. It passes then in the county of Barcelona in 1111, then also the Viscount of Narbonne. In 1162, the count of Barcelona, Alphonse II, separates the crown from Aragon forming the kingdom of Spain. At the time of the crusade against the Albigensians, it is the stronghold of Guillaume de Peyrepertuse, excommunicated in 1224.

This last is subjected after the failure of the head office of Carcassonne, and the castle becomes a French possession in 1240. In 1242, Saint-Louis decides to reinforce it and to add a second part, the keep ‘Sant Jordi’, located higher on the peak. The situation is confused in this area to the signature of the treaty of Corbeil in 1258 leaving free Catalonia and Languedoc. It fixes also the border right at the south of the chateau de Peyrepertuse.

This one, like its neighbors, the castles of Puylaurens and Queribus, is one of the royal fortresses rebuilt at the end of the XIIIth century to defend the border against the kingdom of Aragon then Spain in the XVIIth century. A garrison is maintained until the Revolution even if the citadel did not have too much any more of value since the annexation of Roussillon in 1658. It will be then given up and its ruins remain until today. Its ruins accommodate today nearly 100 000 visitors per annum. They dominate the 800 m of vineyards of the area and the village of Duilhac (vineyard’s of Corbieres).

2009

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