Located in an exceptional natural setting, near the ancient via Domitia, between the ponds of Salses and the Corbières, the fortress offers visitors remarkable views.
Between Catalonia and France...
Built at the end of the 15th century by Francisco Ramiro Lopez, a great Spanish architect, who had just restored the Alhambra, on the site of springs that were very useful in case of a siege, the building guards the ancient border.
Besieged, taken and retaken in 1503, 1639, 1640, the place was definitively conquered by the French in 1642, the Pyrenees treaty of 1659 redrawing the territories.
Less strategic, the fortress then lost its importance, and from 1691, it was partially restored by Vauban.
The fortress is built in the plain of Roussillon and controls the narrow passage that comes from "France, that is to say from the strongholds of Leucate and Narbonne. Leaving the heights of the first medieval castle, which had been destroyed by the French in 1496, Ferdinand II, King of Aragon and his wife Isabella, Queen of Castile, decided to build a fortress of a new architectural type, capable of resisting modern artillery and receiving in times of war a garrison of 1500 men.
A unique fortress
The impressive dimensions of the fortress are strategic and allow it to deter, to guard the Spanish border and to be a war machine, with its hundreds of "bouches à feu", its 300 horsemen and a relentless military organization to hold a 30 days siege, waiting for the reinforcements.
Built on a square of 110m by 84m it will cost an amount equivalent to 20% of the annual budget of the Spanish crown.
With its regular geometry, its sinking into the ground, its advanced defense works, its artillery batteries, its four buildings, its 12 m thick wall, its maze of corridors, chicanes, traps, counter-mine galleries, its second defense reduction and its fully fortified keep, Salses is unique in its kind, a true transitional architecture between the medieval castle and the bastioned fort.
It will hold its role until 1642 when it will be conquered by the French.
The Treaty of the Pyrenees, in 1659, confirmed that Roussillon belonged to France. The border was then transferred to the Pyrenees ridge. Partially restored by Vauban, it became a state prison and a powder magazine throughout the 19th century. It was saved from destruction by its classification as a historical monument in 1886 and its management by the Ministry of Fine Arts from 1930.
Fortress of Salses
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