We made our last tourist excursion of the summer over to the Aude and to the castle of Peyrepertuse. Drew and Joan Rothrock had visited there on their way over to Leran for our purchase of the house last May. We had seen their pictures and used some on the blog and had wanted to visit. It was an architecturally fascinating place, more so than Rocfixade or Montsegur, two other Cathar castles in the Ariege. I found two things outstanding. One was the outdoor staircase, called the Saint Louis Staircase, which should be the first picture. It was interesting because it was carved from existing limestone. I can't even imagine how much effort and time that it would have taken. Due to the traffic over the 800 years of their existence, they have become polished and slippery smooth. King Louis of France, now called Saint Louis, commissioned the steps to be built in the most efficient and cost effective manner. And so they carved them from stone.
The second thing I found fascinating was the latrine. Latrines are things that seem to get ignored in history books, but of course are essential. Nancy is standing at the entrance, and I can imagine it once had a wooden or fabric door. The other picture shows the opening she is facing, with iron bars to prevent anyone from entering though it, or perhaps as a seat. I would assume it would take a rather dedicated attacker to wade through the pile of filth at the base of the cliff, climb the cliff, shimmy up the outhouse hole and through the bars. If you look at the second picture, and look near where the three windows are on the right side, you can imagine the latrine being below them at the base of the structure.
The location was first occupied during Roman times but the castle wasn't mentioned in writing until 1070. By 1258, it was one of the premier fortifications in the French defense of their realm against the Spanish in Aragon. As you drive towards the castle, it is difficult to pick out where the natural stone ends and the structure begins. It has had a long and colorful history, and if you want to know more you can "google" Peyrepertuse.
Some of the other pictures are of Peyreperutse from below, the stairway in the upper fortress, and a view of the landscape below, where you can just make out the Queribus chateau. Remember, click on 'em to enlarge 'em.