It is always fun when people break out of the box and build something unique. I especially love when it is something in architecture and bonus when it comes from ancient time periods. Foix is one such place where I found a castle that didn’t look like any castle I’ve ever seen. It remains one of my favorites today.
Foix is located in southwestern France in the Midi-Pyrénées region. It is just a train ride south of Toulouse, near the border of Spain and Andorra. Foix came to be about the 9th century thanks to Charlemagne and it reached its peak by the 14th century. The town was known as a Cathars’ refuge as the group was persecuted by the Catholic Church during that time period. Its other claim to fame is that King Henry IV, Henry of Navarre, came from Foix – he ruled France from 1589 to 1610.
The Château de Foix that we see today stands on the remains of a 7th century fort built by the Romans. The castle’s original foundations date to the early 10th century. It remained strategically and militaristically important until the 16th century. By then, it had been turned into a prison and it remained as such until 1864. The castle, by the, was named a “monument historique” by the French government. Today, it primarily functions as a museum.
The reason why I love this castle is because of its three towers – they’re all different! The square towers were built before the 11th century. The round tower was built in the 15th century. The body of the castle is relatively narrow so it is pretty neat when viewed from the Pyrenees.
If you’re visiting Toulouse, I do suggest Foix as a great way to spend a few hours. People visit Foix to see the castle as well as for the hiking available in the area. Take a morning train to the town and spend an hour or two exploring the castle. Then have lunch in the town square. Once refreshed, spend a couple hours hiking the Pyrenees along the available marked trails.