The Château de Belcastel is a unique blend of art and architecture
The precursor to the Château began in the 9th century, when villagers of Belcastel constructed a medieval chapel in which to conduct their worship. The chapel expanded during the following two centuries, and the Chateau was born.
In the 13th century, the Lords of Belcastel were devastated by the religious crusades. As a direct result, the Château was eventually confiscated by The Crown to be used as a military bastion. In 1390, it was presented as a gift to a loyal and vigilant knight named Saunhac. The Saunhacs restored life to Belcastel by renovating its Château, and building the beautiful bridge and church that still grace the village today.
At the close of the 16th century, the last Saunhac heir abandoned the Château. It was not until 100 years later that was it purchased by an inhabitant of the village. Unfortunately the buyer sold the stones from around the structure’s openings, causing the Château to fall into ruin.
In 1973 the remains of Château de Belcastel were discovered by the acclaimed French architect Fernand Pouillon. He was enchanted by the property, and was inspired to restore the fortress by hand over the following eight years. Ten Algerian stone masons quarried stones from a hill above the Château, and helped to erect all of the towers and walls without the use of cranes or machines. Glaziers also worked and lived on the property, creating 85 windows with 16th century hand-painted center panes.
Upon the triumphant completion of the restoration, Pouillon set up permanent residence within the castle. The rebirth of their village’s gem encouraged the inhabitants of Belcastel to extend the restoration to their beautiful but aged roads & homes as well.
Two decades after Pouillon’s death, the Château’s current owners purchased the fortress, and began transforming the structure into one that was safe and welcoming to visitors. Now, for the first time in its long history, the castle is open to the public.
There is now much to see at the Château de Belcastel, including its original moat, a dozen rooms, 5 courtyards, and unrivaled panoramic views of the Aveyron river. The castle also houses a collection of original 16th century armor, and numerous contemporary galleries inspired by AFA Gallery in SoHo, New York.
The Château de Belcastel is a truly a unique collaboration of art and architecture, and of the present and past.