About Arques Castle
The Château d’Arques or Arques Castle is a ruined 14th-century castle in the commune of Arques in the Aude département of France. One of the so-called Cathar castles, Arques Castle consists of an enceinte (defensive enclosure) and a high square keep boasting multiple turrets.
Arques Castle history
Built after Albigensian Crusade of the 13th century on lands given to Pierre de Voisins, one of Simon de Montfort‘s lieutenants. In 1284, Gilles de Voisins began work on building a castle, with the intention of defending the Rialsès valley. His son, known as ‘Gilet’ had altered and completed the castle by 1316.
In 1575, the castle was besieged by Protestants and only the keep managed to resist the assault. By the start of the French Revolution the castle had fallen into ruin. Arques Castle was sold as a national asset and subsequently suffered severe damage.
Arques Castle today
Numerous buildings must have existed the length of the enceinte, including two well-preserved residential towers that remain. The square keep, 25 metres high, is a work of military architecture inspired by castles in the Ile de France surrounding Paris. Arques Castle resultantly has four levels served by a spiral staircase with the top floor given over to the defence of the castle.
The various rooms were constructed with extreme care. Around 40 soldiers could defend Arques Castle thanks to numerous murder holes and rectangular bays set symmetrically into the walls. Arques is ultimately a good example for visitors of the progress in military construction in a strategically important region.
Getting to Arques Castle
Just outside the village of Arques, the castle is easily found by car along the D613 and there is parking on site. From Toulouse, Arques is a 1 hour and 45 minute drive via the A61.