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A fortified castle and a fortified town

Perched on its rocky outcrop, the Château Fort overlooks Lourdes and offers a view over the Marian Sanctuary and the Pyrenees. The Château’s history has few documentary sources due to the many destructive sieges of Lourdes between 1374 and 1573. Most of the archives were scattered and burned.
The architectural study during the Historic Monuments listing procedure in 1995 confirms the Château’s special military interest. It is a reminder of the changes in fortifications in the Pyrenean foothills between the 11th and 19th centuries.
As a result of its role in defending the population and controlling access to trade routes, particularly towards Spain, it developed a range of defensive and attacking features that can still be seen today: keep, drawbridge, portcullis, watchtowers, walls and artillery platform.

With the Garnavie tower, also known as the “Tour de la Guigne”, a former lookout tower in the town walls, the Château Fort is the last remains of the defences of Lourdes, a fortified town in the Middle Ages. Its walls tell its story.

 

Description by Eugène Duviau, Lourdes Council Archivist, 1909

“The château fort fortified castle) was, in all probability, built before the town (…). Its presence meant invaluable protection for its neighbours, so they hastened to move as closely as possible, and take refuge within its walls, in the event of an attack. Districts were gradually built up to form a small town, surrounded first of all by palisades that were eventually replaced by thick walls that surrounded the town, with gates on the main exits, the biggest of these topped by crenellated towers and equipped with loopholes”.