Cathar castles: Puilaurens

One of the southernmost Cathar castles, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Puilaurens sits on a 700 m high rocky outcrop.. Perhaps the best-preserved of Languedoc’s many cathar castles of the area,  it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys. Very atmospheric! Puilaurens  was originally built by the Visigoths

Chateau de Puilaurens, 2002

Chateau de Puilaurens, 2002

One of the “five sons of Carcassonne”, Puilaurens stands on an outcrop of rocks not far from the gorges of the Pierre-Lys. The only access is by a zigzag path up a narrow natural corridor. The keep at the Western end overlooks the path up to a large gateway. The walls follow the irregular shape of the rock and you can climb up to the battlements at one point, to look out across the valley to the surrounding mountains.

View from the keep, Puilaurens, 2002

View from the keep, Puilaurens, 2002

The site was originally built by the Visigoths around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Montsegur, Cathars took refuge here from the French.  It’s Lord, Chabert de Barbaira, later turned it over to the French forces in return for his freedom. The castle subsequently played an important part in France’s border defences, and the current structure mostly dates from the French period.  Occupied in 1635 by Spanish troops, Puilaurens lost all its strategic importance after the treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 which moved the border with Spain from the Agly to the line of the crest of the Pyrenees.

305 puilaurens 1992

Puilaurens, 1992

In the Occitan language of Languedoc, Puilaurens is: lo Castèl de Puèg-Laurenç.

340 Puilaurens 3 2002

Two schipperkes at Puilaurens, 2002

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