Châteaux near Carcassonne
There are a handful of chateaus and monasteries within a stone's throw of Carcassonne, all well worth a visit. Among the more notable are the following:
Quéribus Château was the final Cathar stronghold to fall in 1255, and visitors can tour this hilltop castle filled with Gothic arches. The Johnny Depp film, The Ninth Gate, filmed its climactic ending scenes here. Be sure to climb the spiral staircase for a view from the top at 2,400 feet up.
There are several monasteries throughout the Aude. Saint-Papoul, an eighth-century Benedictine abbey in the Romanesque style, features a cloister with carved animals and plants. The archways are framed by ornate columns.
At Château Chalabre relive the Middle Ages in this leisure park where visitors learn history through play, such as horseriding events, knighting ceremonies and calligraphy.
The history of Rennes-le-Château’s museum and church is filled with intrigue and rumors. Some even say it is the top-secret hiding place of the Holy Grail or the lost riches of the Knights Templar. Either way, it is certainly an unusual and chilling place to visit. You will have to go there by car, traveling up a narrow and twisting mountain road until you reach the top. Once you are there, though, views from the building’s tower are breathtaking. Brace yourself for the devil statue in the church, which is haunting and disturbing.
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