The castles of the Hautes-Pyrénées

Lourdes
The castles of the Ha ...
If you are a lover of old stones or just curious, the Hautes-Pyrénées has a rich past to tell you. There is no doubt that you will be impressed by these monumental buildings, still proudly erected, or these vestiges of a troubled era, which have not stood the test of time. We take you over time, discover these castles, fortresses or palaces, which have crossed the ages to tell us the history of the Hautes-Pyrénées.

Opening photo: ©   Philipimage | Adobestock

Photos of the article © Guide Toulouse Pyrénées, except where mention is made to the contrary


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Medieval towers, witnesses of the first fortifications in the Hautes-Pyrénées

During the fortification of the castle mounds, stone towers gradually replaced the wooden constructions of yesteryear. It is usually a defense tower, set on top of a hill. At the foot of the mound, surrounding walls are gradually erected to protect a few buildings, intended to ensure the survival of peasants and warriors. These towers still mark the landscape of the Hautes-Pyrénées today. Here are a few examples:  

  • The tower of the eleventh century and the ruins of the ramparts of Tramezaygues
  • The tower of Agos-Vidalos, twelfth century
  • The tower of Avezac the twelfth century, in Avezac-Prat-Lahitte
  • Tower Héchette the twelfth century Hèches
  • Tower Vieuzac, Argeles Gazost, built in the thirteenth century and maintained until the eighteenth century
  • The tower of the Angles, of the fourteenth century

Tramezaïgues

    The village of Tramezaïgues © Father Igor CC BY-SA 3.0

    The fortified castles of the Middle Ages

    Fortified castle of Lourdes

    The Château fort de Lourdes is probably the most emblematic of the Pyrenean castles. Built in the eleventh century, it has retained its medieval architecture and has been preserved despite the assaults he suffered. Converted into a museum, it offers you an overview of Pyrenean history, through everyday objects, festive costumes, furniture or crafts... For children, fun tours, in the form of games of puzzles, are provided by age group. You can also enjoy the outdoors in the botanical garden and contemplate the magnificent panorama on the terraces and esplanades of the castle.


    Fortified castle of Lourdes

    Fortified castle of Lourdes

    Bramevaque Castle

    Château Bramevaque was the stronghold of the Counts of Comminges. Its history is poorly documented, but over time, it is the legend that has filled the gaps. Amid the ruins of the ancient fortress of the eleventh century, you can enter the tower where Margaret, Countess of Comminges, was locked up by her husband. It is very well preserved, freely accessible. The panorama at the top of the keep is magnificent. The medieval village below also deserves a visit, especially its church of the twelfth century.


    Bramevaque Castle

    Bramevaque Castle © Father Igor CC BY-SA 3.0

    Castle of the Black Prince

    The Château du Prince Noir is a beautiful mansion with the allure of a manor house, transformed into guest rooms. Originally a tower is built in the eleventh century, on the heights of the village of Arcizans-Avant. The castle takes its name during the Hundred Years War, on the occasion of its occupation by Edward of Woodstock, known as the " Black Prince ". After centuries of neglect, it will be rebuilt in the twentieth century, in its present form.


    Mauvezin Castle

    The Château de Mauvezin is a former Castelnau. Its construction began in the twelfth century by a tower and its fortifications evolve until the fourteenth century by Gaston Phoebus. His strategic position was highly coveted and he changed hands many times. The lack of interest of its owners ended up having the better of him and in the twentieth century, it is only a shadow of himself. It will finally be saved by an association which has implemented a formidable restoration and still manages the site today. You can visit it all year round. During the summer season, it comes alive with medieval shows and reconstructions.


    Did you know ? The " castelnau " is a Gascon term, which designates a castle town, that is to say built around a castle. This term comes from the word " castel ", the castle, associated with the adjective " nau ", new. These "new castles" are developing around the eleventh century, when the fortification period of the first villages. The stone fortresses are gradually replacing the old feudal mottes. They consist of a keep, surrounded by a surrounding wall. Some buildings allow shelter inside. The rest of the village extends to the outskirts of the fortified enclosure, under the protection of the lord and his men-at-arms.

    Mauvezin Castle


    Montaner Castle

    The Château de Montaner is the finest example of architecture fébusienne fourteenth century. And for good reason, Gaston Fébus had big plans for this fortified castle. Its vocation as an administrative capital did not prevent this great military strategist from fortifying the site, in a characteristic style! Thus an immense tower of 40 meters, in red brick, overhangs the hill, offering an exceptional panorama on the surroundings and up to the Pyrenean peaks.

    If only the large tower and part of the enclosure remain of the fortifications, the site offers an impressive setting for events and events. Each week, the theme changes allowing you to rediscover the places in a new light and better understand life in medieval times. The tower can only be accessed by a guided tour to explain the history of the castle.


    Chateau Montaner

    Photo : © Montaner Castle

    Beaucens Castle

    Beaucens Castle was built in the fourteenth century. If it was inhabited until the seventeenth century and revived different times, it remains a tower and battlements. It evokes an astonishing legend, where an eagle, carrying a trout, would have put an end to a siege... Curiously, it now houses a zoological park, the "Keep of the Eagles". This one has a vocation of preservation of raptors. It presents educational shows, to help you get to know them better.


    Beaucens Castle

    Beaucens castle © Lesley Williamson

    Mauléon-Barousse Castle

    The Castle of Mauleon Barousse is a beautiful building, built in the eleventh century, but still inhabited and therefore altered many times until the twentieth century. It is a private residence, which cannot be visited, but you can admire it while walking through the charming village of Mauléon-Barousse. Many streams converge there, offering a bucolic setting. You can also visit the Maison des Sources, a museum on the sources of La Barousse.


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    Chateau Sainte-Marie

    At Esterre, Chateau St. Mary dates from the tenth century, but it will be modified until the fourteenth century. In the fifteenth century, it was abandoned and never regain its former glory. It offers you a nice walk and a beautiful panorama over the valley.

    The beautiful residences of the classical period

    Gardères castle

    Gardères Castle is a beautiful building of eighteenth century. Its origin is older but only archives remain and the castle has been completely rebuilt, in a classic style. Guided tours are organized there during the summer and during events. You can also see very beautiful “French ” gardens there. The youngest will appreciate the farmyard animals and the discovery of old vegetables in the vegetable garden.


    Gardères castle

    Garderes Castle © Bollystolly CC BY SA 4.0

    Miramont castle

    The Miramont Castle is family home built between the seventeenth and the eighteenth century, the ancient castle of Adast. Still inhabited, you can only visit it during Heritage Days.

    You are now ready to use the old stones of the oldest buildings in the Hautes-Pyrénées. We wish you wonderful discoveries !


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