Chateau de Montsegur
|Perched perilously at the top of a limestone crag at 1208m is Montségur castle. Probably the most significant monument to Catharism for it was here that in 1244 more than 200 Cathar priests met their death sounding the end of the Cathar religion.
The ruins at the site are not actually the work of the Cathars as it was largely rebuilt in the second half of the 13th century but the place remains haunted by a painful past. The Cathars believed in a natural, humble lifestyle and criticized the Catholic Church relentlessly. It was here, in the Montségur castle ruins that hundreds of Cathars held off the Crusaders for months. The living conditions, already difficult would have been incredibly tough but the siege lasted a whole 10 months before they finally succumbed.
When the Cathars were finally conquered, they were given the choice to renounce their religion or burn. 225 chose to be burnt at the stake in a great inferno on the morning of 16th March 1244 rather than renounce their faith.
Eight centuries later and the Cathar religious sect still fuels speculation and rumour most recently in the best selling novel by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code.
The village’s archaeological museum contains numerous artefacts excavated from the site including tools, fittings, ornaments, weapons and even dice that give an idea as to what life was like at the castle. Some also believe that Cathar treasure is hidden on the site though excavations have never revealed any.
Points of interest : Cathar Castle ruins
Opening dates : Open every day except Christmas day
Guides available : May, June and September
Languages : French
Prices : Adults - 4€
Museum Hours Differ to the Castle : February 2pm - 4:30pm
Access : The museum has wheelchair access to the first floor