Incredible and impregnable: Cathar country

Looking down on to the lower heights of Peyrepertuse from the highest point of the castle

Architectural spotlight: Aude

Dramatic castles perched high on craggy mountain ridges are one of the best-known architectural features of southern France’s Aude department.

Often mistakenly called Cathar Castles, they actually date from later after the Cathar religious group had been wiped out and their castles destroyed. A more accurate label would be castles of the Cathar country.  

They were built after 1271 when Languedoc became part of the kingdom of France and the king began rebuilding the castles as a first line of defence against the kingdom of Aragon to the south.

Anaïs Monrozier, of the Aude tourism body, said: “The new castles were built in the modern military architectural style, called ‘Philippienne’, which had its origins in the reign ...

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