About Salses Fortress
Salses Fortress, also known as Salses Castle or ‘Forteresse de Salses” is a medieval fortified castle in the eastern Pyrenees area of Plateau de Rousillon in France.
Salses Fortress history
Constructed by the Spanish in the late-fifteenth, early-sixteenth century, Salses Castle was a vital stronghold on the then-border with France. It was the subject of numerous sieges in the 16th and 17th centuries before being taken by the French in 1642. At the time, Salses Castle was within Spanish territory, a fact changed by the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees, which redefined the French-Spanish border, incorporating the area into France.
Given its distance from the border, the fortress subsequently lost its strategic importance and was threatened with demolition on several occasions because it was becoming too expensive to maintain. The fortress nevertheless survived and was repaired and transformed from 1691 onwards, under the supervision of Vauban. The fort was also used as refuge during the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939.
Salses Fortress today
Today, Salses Fortress is open to the public as an historic site and as an art museum. It is the architecture of Salses Fortress which makes it such an interesting historic site. The Fortress of Salses is a masterpiece of military architecture, designed to protect against the recently developed metal cannonball.
It is a prime example of the transition between the mediaeval château, with its keep and cylindrical towers with long curtain walls, and the modern fortress, with its rigorously geometric and part-buried structure. Its walls are around 10 metres thick, and the fortress is divided over seven levels served by a maze of corridors and multiple interior defensive chicanes.
Salses Fortress is listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture and is operated by the Centre des monuments nationaux. The fortress receives 100,000 visitors a year. Guided tours are available.
Getting to Salses Fortress
The address of Salses Fortress is 66600 Salses-le-Château, France. If travelling by car, from Montpellier, take the A9 towards Perpignan and take exit 40 to Salses-le-Château. From Perpignan, take the N9 towards Narbonne.
If travelling via public transport, you can take the Narbonne to Perpignan train line and exit at Salses-le-château station which is roughly a 15 minute walk away from the castle. By bus, take the 135 (Perpignan Salses line).
From towering imposing castles to First World War trenches, ancient Roman ruins to historic Revolutionary sites, France is brimming with relics of its esteemed and turbulent history. Here's our pick of 10 of the very best attractions in the country.