Belcastel Castle (France)
Occitanie See list of castles in Francia
The history of the castle dates back to the 9th century, when the villagers of Belcastel erected a medieval chapel to practice their cult. The extension of the chapel continued during the next two centuries; so was born the castle.
In the 13th century, the Lords of Belcastel were ruined and decimated by the Crusades. As a direct result, the castle was confiscated by the Crown and served as a military stronghold. In 1390 he was offered to a faithful and valiant knight named Saunhac. The Saunhac revived the village of Belcastel by renovating the castle, but also by building the magnificent bridge and the church that still make all the charm of the village.
At the end of the 16th century, the last heir of the Saunhac abandoned the castle. It was only 100 years later that a villager bought it. Unfortunately, he sold the stone facings of the various openings of the building, leading irretrievably to ruin the castle.
In 1973, the famous French architect Fernand Pouillon discovered the remains of the Château de Belcastel. Seduced by the place, he put his inspiration and his genius at the service of the fortress that he restored by hand for eight years. Ten Algerian masons pierced a stone quarry on a hill above the castle, and helped erect all the towers and walls, using neither crane nor machine. Master glassmakers also lived and worked on the site, creating 85 windows incorporating in their center stained glass windows of the sixteenth century painted by hand.
After the triumphal completion of the restoration, Fernand Pouillon installed his main residence in the castle. The revival of the jewel that now represented their village has encouraged the inhabitants of Belcastel to extend the restoration to roads and houses, beautiful of course, but degraded.
Two decades after the death of Fernand Pouillon, the current owners of the castle bought the fortress, and began to transform the structure into a safe and welcoming place for visitors. Now, for the first time in its long history, the castle is open to the public.
Today there is much to see at Belcastel Castle: its moats, a dozen rooms, 5 courtyards, and incomparable views of the Aveyron River. The castle also houses a collection of original 16th century armor and several contemporary art galleries inspired by AFA Gallery in SoHo, New York.
The Château de Belcastel is certainly a unique place where art and architecture, present and past are telescoping.