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Puivert Castle

Gallery of 22 photos for Puivert Castle

The Chateau de Puivert is a Cathar Castle 60 km southwest of Carcassonne, with walls, towers and a castle keep that can be visited. Like most of the other Cathar castles, the existing stone structures were rebuilt in the Middle Ages after the original was destroyed (along with the Cathar movement) in the 13th century.

The original Puivert castle was built in the 12th century by the Congost family, and was first mentioned in 1170. The Lords of Congost were Cathar followers, and thus targets from the 1209 beginning of the Albigensian Crusade. Puivert was besieged in November 1210 and fell in just three days.

Most of the original castle was destroyed, except parts of its eastern wall, now the section you can see just past the tall, square castle keep (donjon) of the current castle. The new castle was built at the beginning of the 14th century (early 1500s) by Thomas de Bruyère, grandson of Thomas Pons de Bruyère who had led the besieging army in 1210.

The Chateau de Puivert now has a very large enclosure across the hilltop, with remaining and restored walls and five towers. The enclosure area is 175 m long, with grass kept trimmed (while we were there) by an obliging horse.

Visiting Puivert

The Chateau de Puivert is 35 km southwest of Limoux, and is easily accessible by car. The chateau parking area is one km east of Puivert village, then only 600 m up a small road. The walk from parking up to the chateau entrance is also easy, only 300 m along a sloping path. There's also a less steep alternate just a bit longer (550 m) by following the dirt road from the parking to the entrance. You can also drive up the dirt road to drop off anyone with mobility problems.

The castle is easy to access and very pleasant to visit. Aside from wandering the enclosure area and checking out the very good video presentation (in the rustic shed along the north wall), there are four very interesting rooms to visit in the Keep, each with a separate entrance.

Ruins at the west-side base You can visit the four rooms of the keep by going through the stone doorway to the old-castle area behind the tall tower. Up the steps to the balcony ledge with the iron railings are three doorways.
Left doorway goes straight in (same level) to the Chapel.
Center doorway goes up an inner spiral stairway to the Minstrels Hall on the upper level.
Right doorway goes down a few steps to the Guardroom on a lower level.

The fourth room is down on the ground level, through the stone ruins back to the left of the tower, through a doorway and down an inner spiral stairway to a Basement room.

The Chapel room in the tower The large Chapel room with its beautiful rib-vaulted ceiling was designed to show off to visitors the wealth of the owners. A unique liturgical fountain set into the wall was kept flowing during the whole service by a man unseen on the terrace. The wall pendants all terminate with fine sculptures, the religious equivalent of the musical sculptures in the Minstrels Hall.

Musicians Hall in the tower Keep The Minstrels Hall (Salle des Musiciens) is a large room with a high rib-vaulted ceiling of redish-brown stone. Small sculptures along the walls represent eight different musicians with their instruments, including bagpipes, flute,gittern, hurdy-gurdy, rebec, lute, organ, psaltery and tambourin. (Gittern and rebec are medieval stringed instruments similar to the lute). A local legend is that there was a large gathering of troubadours here in Puivert castle in the 12th century.

Puivert Castle Keep Guards Room with The Guardroom (Salle des Gardes) is entered by going down a few steps from the righthand door on the terrace-ledge, but is actually at ground level. This room-of-the-guards was used for resting, studying, as a library and even as a tribunal to dispense justice.

The lower room of Puivert Castle A Basement room of the keep tower can be accessed by going back through the ruins at the left side, through a doorway (marked IV) and down the spiral stone steps. The only thing of interest here, other than the room itself, is a very fine model of the castle, as it would have looked in the 13th century. This basement room is very dark, and it's difficult to see anything. After photographing the castle model (with a very high-speed film setting), we had to check the camera images to see what the model looked like.

Practical. (2019)
cost: 5 euros; kids 3-12, 3 euros.
open: May-Nov 9h-19h
open: Dec-May 10h-17h (closed Sat)
closed: 15 Nov, 15 Dec
visit duration: we spent 1-1/2 hours there and we saw everything; visited every room of the tower and watched the video presentation.

Movie Making. The Chateau de Puivert has been used as a film set for some very good movies over the years, including:
  — La Passion Béatrice, Bertrand Tavernier, (1987).
  — Le Voyage étrange, Serge Roullet, (1990).
  — La Neuvième Porte, or The Devil's Tower, Roman Polanski, (1998),
  — Le Peuple migrateur, Jacques Perrin, (2001) [beautiful, we watch it once a year]
  — Lady Godiva, Vicky Jewson, (2008) .

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