Cathar Strongholds

My previous post in this series is The Little Yellow Train.

When I posted about Carcassonne I mentioned the Cathars.The term ‘cathars’ stems from the Greek catharos, which means the purified ones.

Wikipedia says: “Cathars, in general, formed an anti-sacerdotal party in opposition to the Catholic Church, protesting against what they perceived to be the moral, spiritual and political corruption of the Church.”

Pope Innocent III called a Crusade against the Cathars of the Languedoc that lasted for two generations. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region there are a number of strongholds where the Cathars fled to escape persecution.

Quéribus is high and isolated on top of the highest peak for miles around.Listed as a monument historique since 1907, restoration was undertaken so that it is now accessible to visitors.

We approached by car …

and proceeded on foot …

Inside it spoke to the imagination …

We also stopped for some shots of Peyrepertuse


In the ancient language of the Languedoc region called Occitan, Peyrepertuse means Pierced Rock. This Cathar stronghold was handed over without a battle in 1240.

To cap a very scenic day, our route back to St-André took us through the Gorge de Galamus …

My husband was ensconced in the front passenger seat, heard to be repeating over and over, “Don’t look down, don’t look down.” All that was between us and a drop of several hundred feet was an ineffective stone curb. Vehicles with trailers are not permitted, nor are those over a certain height. The road is about nine feet wide – and, of course, it is  two-way traffic.  We were lucky to be there in October – methinks that high season might be somewhat chaotic and distracting.

The Hermitage St-Antoine nestles half way down the cliff. You can see it here sitting right along the shadow line  …

Here is a closer view …

To experience the drive through the Gorge and a visit to the Hermitage click here.

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12 thoughts on “Cathar Strongholds

    1. We often found that what we might call a paved bicycle path is a full fledged, two-way traffic, road. It’s no wonder they design their cars with side mirrors that fold in with the touch of a button – because you NEED that extra few inches to scrape by.

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  1. Thank you for that thrilling side trip – I don’t know why I didn’t do it either of the times I was right there! And they just capitulated, in the end? How sad that they were so diminished by all their hardships – I guess it was the only way to save the children …

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    1. Actually, there is another Cathar stronghold, Montségur, southwest of Queribus and Peyrepertuse.
      After a long siege the Cathars surrendered … but were burned at the stake. I would suspect, with the cruelty of the time that the children weren’t spared.

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  2. Although I truly enjoyed the drive through the Gorge, in real life my heart would have been in my throat! At least there was that bit of a barrier on the edge, because it is edges that give me palpitations. As to the structures themselves, it continually amazes me what man was able to do way back then, when there was no heavy equipment, when it was the labors of human strength that had to do the work.

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