Castle of the Week 72 – Carcassonne

Welcome to the Counts’ Castle in Carcassonne, France.

Before we visit the castle let’s give you a little history:

The Medieval Cité of Carcassonne is the largest fortified town in Europe still in existence today.

The waterways that flow through the area are the Canal de Midi and the Aude.

The Medieval Cité has been inhabited for more than 2000 years and early cultures represented are

Earliest timesNeolithic
6th century BCCeltic; the Volques Tectosages
118 BCthe Romans
5th centurythe Visigoths from Aquitaine, then the Franks
725 ADthe Arabs (Saracens) come north from Gaul, possessing Languedoc and occupying Carcassonne
759 ADKing Pépin le Bref routs the Arabs
1067 ADErmengarde, viscountess of Agde and Béziers, wife of Raimond Roger Trencavel, viscount of Albi and Nîmes, obtains the city

The city was important to the Romans as an administrative trade center and known as ‘Colonia Julia Carcaso’. It was in that era that the foundations of the city were laid which can still be seen today, as the main part of the north rampart still has the gallo-roman architecture.

The Counts’ castle is overpowering because of its immense size. The Trencavel dynasty of viscounts built their new houses on the highest point of the Cité. In 1150 Bernard Anton Trencavel constructed the castle on remains from Roman times; Roman mosaics are still visible under the basement of the Counts’ castle.

This is the imposing entrance to the Counts’ Castle.

The Castle reached its current size only after the French conquest in the 13th century. The highest and oldest parts of the castle are to be seen in the courtyard. Two buildings, the western and southern wings and the ground floor of the Pinte Tower, go back to the Trencavels’ period. The Pinte Tower, a watchtower, is the highest in Carcassonne. This tower, more than 30 metres high (90 ft), dominates the area. It is hard to say what the castle looked like in medieval times as it has been added to and remodeled many times over the centuries.

Due to the size of this city and the information found, in the next couple of Castle of the week articles we will explore the Castle and the Medieval Cité of Carcassonne. Meanwhile enjoy this wonderful night-time view as the Castle is lit by lights to simulate firelight.

To be continued….

Write-up provided by Lady Arcola. Pictures courtesy of and are used with permission.