Châteaux and castles in
the Ariège Pyrenees
The chateaux and castles of Ariège are numerous and diverse and can be found in all corners of the department. Many of them can be visited.
The Foix castle
This imposing medieval château dominates the town from atop its rock near the centre. It is still very well preserved and can be visited. The most famous of the counts of Foix was Gaston Fébus, who defied the authority of the king of France by refusing to pay him hommage.
Montségur is one of the most important Cathar sites, very impressive high up on a craggy hilltop, called a "Pog".
From 1232 Montségur became the seat of the Cathar church; it was besieged for 11 months by an army of 10 000 men of the Senechal of the King of France and the Bishop of Narbonne. It came to a tragic end on 16 March 1244 when 230 Cathars, refusing to renounce their faith, were burned alive on a pyre.
The château of Usson
The ruins of the château of Usson sit at 923 metres near the border between the Ariège and the Aude. The château is mentioned for the first time in 844 (as a gift from father to son between Argila and Bera II of Razès).
Vassals of the Counts of Foix, the lords of Alion reconstructed the château in the 13th century.
Sold as a "Bien National" at the time of the Revolution, it then served as a supply of building stone. Now consolidated, Usson is one of the rare Cathar sites open to the public today and features a museographic structure.
The château of Roquefixade
The château of Roquefixade belonged to the Villemur family, vassals of the counts of Foix. It was retaken by Raymond VII, count of Toulouse in 1243 following a confict between the two houses.
Despite its strategic position near the château of Montségur and even though having served as a refuge, Roquefixade did not see any significant combat. It became a royal fortress at the end of the Albigensian crusade.
The Miglos château
A dependent of the counts of Foix, the Miglos château is mentioned in 1213, at the time of the inventory of the fortified structures given back to the king of France. Miglos was a stopping point and a residence for numerous Cathar "Perfects" and believers.
The château of Lagarde
Situated not far from Mirepoix, this chateau in ruins is impressive in its size, its geographic situation and its beautiful vestiges. The first Lagarde chateau, an imposing square tower, was erected between 1063 and 1065 by Ramire the first of Navarre, King of Aragon and count of Barcelona. Then it was enlarged in the 12th century to four square towers, draw bridges, etc.
The château of Mirabat
This medieval chateau in ruins is only accessible by foot (a 520 m altitude change). It enjoys an exceptional panoramic view of the high peaks of the Couserans.