About fifty kilometers south-east of Carcassonne, the village of Arques is located in a valley with the Réalsès stream running through it and surrounded by numerous forests.
The castle stands at the top of a small isolated hillock, a few hundred meters west of the village.
Mentioned for the first time in 1011, the locality saw the Arques family dispossessed of this lordship in the 12th century, to the benefit of the powerful House of Termes.
During the crusade against the Albigensians, Béranger d'Arques, a descendant of the dispossessed family, was one of the relatives of Guillaume de Peyrepertuse.
In 1217, Simon de Montfort, leader of the crusaders, is said to have taken and burned the castle and the village of Arques.
In 1231, he offered the lands of Arques to his lieutenant Pierre de Voisins.
In 1265, the new lord of Arques made a remarkable passage on his domains, by condemning a 60 years old woman, accused of witchcraft, to be burned alive in the village.
At the end of the 13th century, his son, Gilles de Voisins, rebuilt the village as a "bastide" and began the construction of the present castle. His own son, Gilles II, completed its construction around 1316.
In the 16th century, Arques passed to the Joyeuse family, but as a place of residence, the castle was supplanted by that of Couiza. Then, in 1575, the Protestants besieged the castle and failed in front of the keep.
The castle was sold, during the revolution, as national property and suffered some damage.
It was classified as a historical monument in 1887,
The keep became municipal property in 1910.
The quadrangular keep, practically intact, is a masterpiece of Gothic military architecture. It is 11m long and 25m high, and stands in the center of the enclosure. It is composed of four levels. The first two levels are rib-vaulted, the third has a floor and the last one is the main defensive level. The south-western corner of the enclosure is occupied by the residential tower, of which two levels are currently being visited.
Castle of Arques
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