Cathar Castles
Château d'Arques ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about Occitan. Castèl de Arcas)

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In the early 11th century the castrum of Arques belonged to the Abbey of Lagrasse.  At some time during the next hundred years it passed into the hands of the Seigneurs of Termes

The Crusaders passed this way in on their way from their successful siege of Coustaussa , Rhaeda (modern Rennes-le-Château), and Le Bézu without a fight. Simon de Montfort went on to besiege Puivert

After the Crusades against the Cathars, and the fall of Termes, Arques was given to one of Simon de Montfort's lieutenants, Pierre de Voisins.  It was later reclaimed by Oliver de Termes in 1246 following his surrender to the French Crusaders, but then sold it back to Pierre de Voisins. 


Pierre's son, Gilles, rebuilt the village as a bastide in 1268 and also started work on the present castle.  It was completed by his son Gilles II in 1316.

The castle, generally known as a donjon (ie a keep, not a dungeon), rises 20 meters and exemplifies the castle builders art - providing a good lookout and defensive position with a luxurious top floor.  Unusually for the area and period, it stands at the bottom of a valley rather than the top of a mountain.  It has been, and still is being, sympathetically restored by the commune of Arques, to which it (or rather most of it) belongs.

Google map showing the location of Château d'Arques



No one even pretends that this is really a Cathar castle, though one nineteenth century historian claimed to have found traces of an earlier fortification here.  It is often included in the list because it is exceptionally elegant and unusually well preserved, and vaguely connected to the Cathar period. 

It is well worth a visit for the architecture, and the museum dedicated to the Cathars in the nearby village of Arques located in the house of Déodat Roché (1877-1978), a historian and romantic who did much to revive an interest in Catharism that the Roman Church had until then successfully suppressed. 

There is an entry fee.

Arques lies in the Aude departément at   42°57'09" N,   2°22'29" E




Google map showing Château d'Arques




































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