In the south of France, – the Corbières district – (reputedly the biggest vineyard in the world), on the French side of the Pyrinees you find the Cathar Castles.
The Cathars were a religious group in the late Middle Ages. According to some they were mystics and according to the church, – heretics.
Their name is from the Greek katharoi, – the pure ones. Interestingly enough, not a name they chose for themselves but given to them by their enemies.
By the middle of 12th century they were spreading over western Europe. They had quite a lot of support from the nobility and were a thorn in the flesh of the church, who at the time was ruling. It is decided to get rid of them and crusades follow.
The region today en route to the mountains.
The medieval town of Carcassonne was one of their main strongholds and is restored to look almost new. Alas not a single photo, the camera’s battery if I remember..
When this town fell, the Cathars retreat to the mountain castles which were a lot more difficult for their enemies to access. Puylaurens (Laurens Mountain) and Queribus are two of the most well known. Fighting continues another twenty year. Where they are caught the whole group is gathered in a group and burnt alive.
As you can imagine the road is quite steep. When I arrived back down there was an old guy waiting on a bench. He wanted to know if I had seen a women of a certain age on my way; – I had not. Ah, perhaps she’s dead he says 🙂
Down in the valley is an old Roman viaduct.
and Queribus castle on the horizon.
Some say these castles are much older than the Cathars and they used them but did not build them.