Pau Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Pau Castle

Bizanos, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

The 12th century Château de Pau is a castle in the centre of the city of Pau, the capital of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

Peta Stamper

15 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Pau Castle

The 12th century Château de Pau is a medieval military castle in the centre of the city of Pau, the capital of Pyrénées-Atlantiques in France. The château has been classified as a monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture and nowadays contains a vast collection of tapestries.

Pau Castle history

Pau Castle was founded in the 12th century on top of the hill overlooking the Gave de Pau river. The Crusader  Gaston IV of Béarn built three towers at the fortress called Mazères, Billère and Montauser.

During the Renaissance the court of Navarre in 1512 significantly altered the appearance of the castle. Originally a fortress, it became a residence. Henri d’Albret lived there with his wife Marguerite d’Angoulême, sister of François I. The couple marked the castle with their initials – still present on the walls and ceilings – and great care was taken to maintain and reproduce them even over the subsequent restorations.

Yet it was their grandson who gave the castle its reputation: not by any architectural endeavour, nor even by his own will. The future Henri IV was born at Pau on 13 December 1553, and the story did the rest. Centuries later, the Château de Pau was used by Napoleon as a holiday home during his period of power. The castle then became a presidential residence during the Republic.

Pau Castle today

Château de Pau is currently a National Museum which houses the works preserved from the days of Henry IV and during the restoration under Louis-Philippe (French king between 1830 and 1848). Today, the castle currently hosts over 100,000 visitors annually, making it the most visited heritage site in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

Getting to Pau Castle

Located in central Pau near the River Ousse, Pau Castle is easily reached on foot or public transport. The 11, 5, 15 and C buses all stop just minutes walk away.

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