Castelnou, a medieval village in the Pyrénées-Orientales, classified as one of the "Most Beautiful Villages in France", is located 5 kilometers west of Thuir, in the first foothills of the Aspres.
Built on a hillside, the village is dominated by its viscountal castle and an ancient watchtower.
In Catalan, the name of the village is "Castellnou dels Aspres".
The medieval castle
The town of Castelnou developed around the castle known in the archives from the end of the 10th century. The castle was stormed by the troops of James II of Majorca in 1286 and again in 1483 by those of the governor of Roussillon.
In the 18th century, the castle was left abandoned and the village declined until it was almost deserted in the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century, the castle was bought and restored. The development of tourism in the twentieth century sparked a craze for the site of Castelnou and the village was raised from its ruins.
Ravaged by a fire in 1981, which then caused great damage to the buildings, it was restored again to be opened to the public in 1990.
Today it lives mainly from tourism and is classified among "The most beautiful villages of France" like five other villages in the Pyrénées-Orientales.
It will not end up in oblivion. The castle of Castelnou, a medieval castle built in the 10th century has just been bought by the departmental council of Pyrénées-Orientales for the modest sum of one euro.
The castle had been closed in October 2017 for security reasons. It had belonged for 32 years to the Caisse Régionale du Crédit Agricole Sud-Méditerranée.
In 2020, it was included in the selection of the 101 sites selected by Stéphane Bern to benefit from the Heritage Lottery.
Other monuments are worth a visit
The watchtower first of all. With a vaulted floor, it dates from the 13th century and served as a scout for the village as well as a defense against the enemy.
The Church of Santa Maria de los Mercadal, then, built at the beginning of the twelfth century, houses three interior chapels.
Not forgetting the Gate of Castelnou and the Dolmen de Serrat d'en Geli.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
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