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Cathar legend and fortress of France

The name Montségur alone has the power to evoke a place, a fortress, an epic, mythical and legendary story. Visitors from all over the world come to see these ruins in the heart of a breathtaking landscape. The history of the present-day fortress dates from after the famous Cathar pyre of 1244, and remains little-known to the public.

If there is a sacred place, a place that speaks to the heart of those for whom these distant times have remained alive like memories clinging to soul and body, it is this mountain and this château.

Henri Gougaud

A fortress

for the King of France

At the end of the 13th century, the old fortified village (castrum) of Montségur, which had been home to the Cathar community from 1204 to 1244, was dismantled. It was replaced by a fortress commissioned by the King of France. Against a backdrop of war and crusade against the King of Aragon, the fortress was to complete a network of fortresses on the kingdom’s Pyrenean border.

The project was carried out with the support of Philippe le Bel, King of France, and Guy III de Lévis-Mirepoix, Lord of Montségur. Occupied by a small garrison of around 15 men, the fortress was never attacked. It was abandoned in the first half of the 17th century by the lord of Lévis-Mirepoix, before the destruction of fortresses by Richelieu and the Treaty of the Pyrenees.


large site

The Montségur site is currently undergoing theOpérationGrand Site process, with the aim of obtaining this status in the near future. Supported by the French Ministry of Ecological Transition and managed by the Pays d’Olmes Community of Communes, the OGS is a tool that enables an area with exceptional landscapes, but whose listed heritage presents difficulties, to better preserve it while managing major tourist flows. The area concerned encompasses several communes around Montségur, with a total surface area of 2,249ha. The program was presented to and approved by the Commission Supérieure des Sites Perspectives et Paysages in December 2020.


Our approach

Since 2009, the Aude department has been involved in the process of registering the city of Carcassonne and its sentinel fortresses as a UNESCO serial site. Of these 8 fortresses, only Montségur is located in Ariège. The theme that unites these sites concerns the post-Albigensian crusade period, when various kings of France rebuilt ancient fortified villages (castrums) as military fortresses along the Pyrenean border, with Carcassonne as their command center.