Quéribus Castle

The leading light of the Occitan world

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At first you can only see Quéribus's enormous keep which seems to spring from Corbières to face Fenolhedés, which is opposite. From the top of its 728m-high, rocky overhang, the fortress dominates the plain which extends from Tautavel to Caudiès. It's one of the most impressive royal castles in the region...


Quéribus is cited for the first time in 1020 in the will of Bernard Taillefer, count of Besalù. This count allied with the House of Barcelona in 1111. Later on, in 1162, Alphonse, count of Barcelona, became King of Aragon. The fortress thus became integrated into the northern defensive line of the kingdom of Aragon, which also consisted of Fenolhedés and Peyrepertusés. During the Albigensian Crusade, Quéribus, like Puilaurens, was a final refuge for exiled lords and Cathar heretics. The local commander, Chabert de Barbaira, resisted the King and Church until the siege of 1255. Chabert was imprisoned by Olivier de Termes and surrendered Quéribus to the King of France in exchange for his freedom. The royal architects defied the mountain to make the castle as strong as possible against Aragon. Until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, they transformed its ramparts to adapt to new military technology: the arrow slits were widened to fit a crossbow, then firearms...

The outer walls

In order to reach the castle, you have to get through three terraced walls on a rocky peak. During this ascent, you will see an impressive wall-shield, before being slowed down by the brink of an abyss. The remains of barracks serve as a reminder that soldiers were once here. At the door of the last outer wall, the dizzying beauty of the landscape emerges.

The view

Quéribus touches the Roussillon plain. Your gaze can roam freely, from the Mediterranean coast to the Pyrenees and the confines of Fenolhedés. Closer up, the fortress controls the Maury channel, one of the rare routes through the cliffs, which is easily visible from the terrace of the keep.

The keep

Enter into the third wall via a door defended by a "brattice", a defensive structure. The main tower looms here. From the outside, it has a warlike and brutish appearance. Its huge walls made from cut stone support a terrace with three loopholes. But these 15th - 16th century armaments hide an unexpected medieval room: the pillar room.

The pillar room

The central pillar of this room in the keep fans out into a majestic Gothic vaulted ceiling. A mullion window, overlooking the small courtyard, suggests a surprisingly quiet and comfortable life in this lofty location.

Things to explore

As you walk


Since the Middle Ages, Fenolhedés has been the intersection of the Catalan and Occitan worlds. With its rugged landscape made of folded schist, granite and limestone, watered by numerous rivers and streams, Fenolhedés is evidence of the Pyrenean tectonic uplift. It has always been a buffer zone: simultaneously a point of friction and communication between two cultures. This natural region opposite Quéribus is the only place in the Eastern Pyrenees where Occitan is spoken. Along with the Corbières, this incredible landscape is in the process of receiving classification as a Regional Natural Park in order to protect and support and encourage sustainable development in this area.

Fenolhedés: the meeting of two worlds.