Wednesday, 19 September 2012

III Montsegur & Puivert

Today is special. We are going to visit reputably the most beautiful of the Cathar castle sites and the most tragic. The massacre here marked the end of all hope for the Cathars.


Montsegur
Montsegur

In the evening we are invited to a medieval style banquet at Chateau de St Ferriol. Montsegur was as spectacular as I had expected.


Montsegur
Montsegur

We once again had a climb up to the castle with a few things to be looked out for on the way including memorials to the 225 or so people who were burned alive rather than renounce their faith.

I particularly loved what I have called the stairway to heaven.


Montsegur
Montsegur

This was the first day that the weather had not been perfect. It was not really cold but I was glad to have my waterproof. The castle was shrouded in mist which made Montsegur and its surroundings even more atmospheric.


Montsegur

Back in the village, the museum was very interesting. They had some examples of medieval weaponry, a model reconstructing how the village would have been in 1240 and even some Cathar skeletons.


Montsegur
Montsegur

Montsegur

We then walked to the restaurant at Montsegur, making such good time that the restaurant had not yet opened for lunch and in good old French style there was to be no opening any earlier. Fortunately we were only a little early - and had to wait less than 30 seconds, until the church bell rang noon!

In the restaurant I noticed a curious statue of a black Madonna and a small black Christ. James said that we might learn more of the stories of the Mary Magdelen tomorrow at Rennes le Chateau.


Montsegur

In the afternoon on the way back from Montsegur we stopped at Puivert, a chateau mentioned by troubadour poets - The salle des musicians was fantastic and the views once again breathtaking.


Puivert
Puivert

Puivert


Puivert
Puivert

I am going to just try to remember one amazing thing that he tells me from each day and today there were two. One was that (at least according to inquisitors) the Cathars believed that Jesus and Mary Magdelen had had some sort of sexual relationship - something the early Gnostics also believed. The second was that there had been a great troubadour contest at Puivert in the presence of Eleanor of Aquitaine - with all the most famous names of the day - the medieval equivalent of Woodstock.


Puivert
Puivert

Again the day did not feel rushed. We even had time for an unscheduled visit to Campagne - a templar village dating from the Cathar period. But the day was not over and from Montsegur we bundled back in to the Mercedes Vito and headed to the Chateau St Ferriol for the Conference and the Medieval Banquet.

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