Aguilar Castle

The eagle's nest

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Aguilar, the "eagles' rock", rises above the surrounding vines and the heath. Around the castle, encircled by the hilly Hautes Corbières and the majestic Mount Tauch, the Paziols-Tuchan grasslands extend into the distance. The castle, through contact with Roussillon, overlooks this rare entrance to the Narbonne road and Carcassonne via Razès.

HISTORY

Aguilar is primarily known as a pech, or hill, a striking element in the landscape. This land was claimed by Lagrasse Abbey, and passed into the hands of the Termes family towards the end of the 11th century. After the loss of the family castle in 1228, Aguilar became the seigniorial seat of Olivier de Termes, a powerful Occitan knight, previously allied with the Trencavel family. The following day after the Albigensian Crusade in 1241, he signed the surrender of his fortified military stronghold of Aguilar, comprising of a village, a chapel and a castle. Olivier de Termes supported King Louis IX, and became one of his loyal knights. In 1262, alongside the fortresses of Corbières, Aguilar joined the line of defence of the French crown against the kingdom of Aragon. It also received the latest innovations in Philippian architecture. A part of the village was moved to reinforce the military strength of the castle and its hill. After the Treaty of the Pyrenees pushed back the border to the other side of the mountain ridge, the castle lost its strategic interest and was left to face the bitter Cers wind alone...

The outer wall

The ramparts of Aguilar and its six semi-circular towers give the hill a both powerful and graceful appearance. Built at the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century to reinforce the original outer wall, this ensemble gives the site an almost organic shape and provides it with strong, active defences.

The semi-circular towers

The six towers of the outer wall are spread out along the curtain wall, depending on the weakness of the land. Their semi-circular structure, "open at the throat", means that the castle's occupants, sheltered by the inner wall, can watch them. There's nowhere for an attacker to hide.

The inner wall

The inner wall replaced the original, twelfth-century wall, and overlooks the inside of the castle. Spread over an inner courtyard, it consists of the castle owner's rooms, a tower, a cistern etc. Notice the royal innovation opposite the most vulnerable point of the hill: the wall becomes up to 2.8m thick and takes the form of a spur, capable of breaking any missile.

St Anne's Chapel

This small building, located on a headland outside of the castle walls, is moving due to its simplicity. You can appreciate the freshness provided by its broken barrel-vaulted ceiling and its apse with quarter-sphere vaulting. Now, come and face the elements...

The fortified village

In the prickly heathland with summer smells, the remains of the fortified village wall remind us of life here. The houses lie on different levels on the terraces, under the welcoming hillside where St Anne's Chapel is located.

Things to explore

As you walk

About

At the end of 1250, the construction site of Peyrepertuse received crushed tiles from Aguilar, which were used to make the sealant for the cisterns - made of crushed tiles, vinegar and lime. The water in the fortresses was used for cooking, washing, animals and also in building sites - making mortar for example. The cisterns were used to store large quantities of water, particularly useful during periods of conflict, when there were more people living in the castle. Rainwater was collected from the roofs and terraces, and transported to the cisterns via ceramic or lead pipes, before being filtered. To make sure the water didn't leak, the cisterns were covered and carefully sealed. Whether dug in the ground or built, round or rectangular, cisterns are always carefully designed and maintained constructions.