Fanjeaux Medieval city

The spiritual city

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The bell tower of Fanjeaux is a 360m-high beacon in the landscape, which can be seen from all over the Lauragaise plain. The roads, with their enchanting gardens, reveal the rich history of this city. This place, located right in the heart of Cathar Country, is where Simon de Montfort and St Dominic decided to lead the fight against heresy.


In 1131, Fanjeaux was a powerful fortified village. Frequented by its lord, the Viscount Trencavel, and various nobles, it was a welcoming city for the Cathars. Bishop Guilabert de Castres had a "maison de parfaits" here, where Cathars would live. Weavers made a living by working in communal workshops. From 1206, this is where Dominique de Guzman chose to stay,  preaching to convert non-believers. He clashed with Guilabert de Castres during a theological "dispute" in either Montreal or Fanjeaux, according to chroniclers. He founded the Prouilhe monastery in 1207, before founding the Dominican Order (Order of Preachers) ten years later. However, the debate gave way to the violence of the Albigensian Crusade. In 1209, Simon de Montfort set up his headquarters in Fanjeaux. After Dominic's death in 1221, the Dominican monks participated in the Inquisition. In the middle of the 15th century, the village became rich, thanks to its woad plantations (a flowering plant used to produce indigo dye). During the French Revolution, the Dominican monks were dispossessed. Today, there are 5 active religious communities in the city of Saint Dominique.


There is a marked path, which starts from the Tourist Office. Educational for adults and fun for children, this walk invites you to learn about the history of this medieval city and provides a proper treasure hunt. The walk includes roads interspersed with flowers and beautiful façades, a path lined with cypress trees, impressive crosses, a magnificent wash house, extraordinary countryside and charming secluded spots.

The Dominican Order Convent

Founded in the 14th century, the Dominican Order Convent is currently home to Dominican Sisters of the Holy Family. At the end of the Convent's garden, the remains of the "Miracle" House recount an episode in the life of Saint Dominic recorded by one of his contemporaries, the chronicler Pierre des Vaux de Cernai. During the "dispute" in Montreal or Fanjeaux, works by both the Cathars and St Dominic were thrown on the fire, with the books of the latter being miraculously carried away from the flames three times. The anecdote, written down later, reports that the parchment would have burned a beam in the roof, which has been revealed since 1820 in the parish church.

The Church

Classed as a historic monument, Our Lady of the Assumption is a superb example of the southern French Gothic style at the end of the 13th century. The opulence of the interior is striking. Everything here exudes elegance, from the magnificent Baroque choir stalls, to the a thirteenth-century wooden Virgin with Child and the font made from Caunes-Minervois marble. On the outside of the church is a mighty octagonal bell tower topped with a triangular arrow, which can be seen for miles around. Walking around the church, you will arrive at the site of the temple of Jupiter. A block of white stone embedded into a portion of the eastern end of the church is possibly a memorial to the ancient temple which was once here.

Saint Dominic's House

The district has kept same name since 1328: "le Borguet Sant Domenge". A sloping path departs from the eastern end of the church, and goes down towards Saint Dominic's House and its sculpted wooden door. This is where the Dominican Monks remember the founder of their Order. On display are some impressive objects, such as an early-Renaissance fireplace, and stained-glass windows signed by the great-nephew of Victor Hugo. These stained-glass windows, dating from the beginning of the 20th century, recount important episodes in the life of Saint Dominic.

The "Seignadou"

At the end of the village, at the top of the steep hillside, this viewpoint is an ideal place for contemplation and awe. The countryside spreads out in all directions, rough or smooth, endless or blocked by mountains. Amongst the undulating cultivated fields, the summit of Bugarach rises up in the distance, as an outpost of Corbières. Ceramic tiles on the parapets point out the mountains, hills and villages. This headland takes its name from "Seignadou" from "signum dei", the sign of God. This is where Saint Dominic had the vision of the ball of fire falling on Prouilhe down below. His statue dominates the small courtyard.

Things to explore

As you walk


Par Ainars Brūvelis

'Fanum Jovis' or the 'Temple of Jupiter' was the original name of Fanjeaux. On this mountain, rare archaeological discoveries have confirmed that people have lived here since the 1st century BC. The temple, located just behind the current church, allegedly had a basin that transformed into the 'lake of Jupiter', via the magic of pomposity... According to legend, at the bottom of this lake, a stone bears the following inscription: 'If you remove the stone, Fanjeaux, you will perish in the water'...

Fanum Jovis